Dr. Lee Pinnell is a Research Assistant Professor and microbial ecologist with VERO and the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences (VLCS) at Texas A&M University.

Prior to joining VLCS, he received his PhD in marine biology from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and his MSc from the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario. After his PhD, he was a Postdoctoral Scientist with the Molecular and Microbial Ecology Group at the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois.

His research aims to protect and improve animal and ecosystem health through the exploration of microbial interactions in the Anthropocene. The majority of his research explores the ecology of pathogens and antimicrobial resistance in agricultural systems, the impact of anthropogenic stressors on microbial processes, and host-microbe relationships in managed/built environments.

Veterinary Education, Research, and Outreach Program Texas A&M University Canyon, Texas, USA

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The importance of including an ecological perspective when investigating bovine liver abscesses and bovine respiratory disease

Liver abscesses (LAs) and bovine respiratory disease (BRD) are two of the most common and costly problems facing cattle producers. Typically, only a small number of pathogenic microbes (e.g., Fusobacterium necrophorum, Mannheimia haemolytica) are considered important for their pathogeneses. However, by investigating these diseases without selective culturing we are identify a number of previously overlooked microbes playing seemingly important roles. We have demonstrated that multiple taxa including Bifidobacterium – widely considered beneficial to gut barrier function in humans – were differentially abundant in both the foregut and hindgut between cattle that did and did not have LAs. Additionally, we have shown that Mycoplasma is far more abundant within the respiratory tract of cattle with BRD and based on a ratio of Mycoplasma:Moraxella upon an animal’s arrival at a feedlot, we are able to predict whether or not that animal goes on to be diagnosed with BRD. We believe that by including an ecological perspective in the investigation of important diseases we can gain a more complete understanding of their pathogensis.