Animal Production and Health Laboratory (APHL)
adapting technologies and building scientific
capacities in IAEA and FAO Member States to
contribute to the increase of animal production for
food security worldwide

The world’s poorest people, some one billion mostly in Africa and Asia, depend on livestock for their day-to-day livelihood. To reduce poverty, fight hunger and ensure global food security, there is an urgent need to increase livestock production. We assist Member States to improve livestock productivity through the efficient use of locally available feed resources, adequate management practices and breeding programmes for indigenous and upgraded animals, and diagnostic tools and prophylactic measures for the control of important animal diseases, particularly those of transboundary nature, such as, highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), peste-des-petits ruminants (PPR) and Capripox diseases (CaP).

Animal Production and Health Laboratory (APHL) The development and exploitation of biotechnology and in particular the use of radio-isotope based and related techniques plays a major role in livestock science. This includes, at the cellular level, the characterization of animal genetic material and the understanding of function of genes and the genome as well as the many practical applications in animal nutrition, reproduction and disease control. Biotechnology therefore has great potential to enhance the so called "livestock revolution" characterized by the increasing demand for livestock and livestock products from the growing middle classes in countries such as India, Brazil and China.

Within the FAO/IAEA Joint Programme and Animal Production and Health Subprogramme, the laboratory :

Animal Production and Health Laboratory (APHL) With regard to Research and Development activities, the APHL is currently using nuclear and related techniques (e.g. ELISA, nucleic acid amplification and sequencing) to:

(a) Develop and transfer to Member States early and rapid diagnostic tests, molecular epidemiology tools for surveillance and control of transboundary animal diseases which pose a major challenge to the production and distribution of food of animal origin such as PPR and CaP which are sheep and goat diseases which are endemic in nearly the same areas in Africa, the Middle East and Asia where they are threatening the production of more than one billion small ruminants as shown in the figure below.

Animal Production and Health Laboratory (APHL) Furthermore, because the stamping out policy, i.e. culling of all animals in an infected area as the main mean for eradication of epizootic animal diseases is now less accepted by the public, the development and use of vaccines with a companion test that enables differentiation between infected and vaccinated animals is a new area of research for effective control of animal diseases.
In support of the FMD control programme, the APHL is involved in developing a test that enables the differentiation between vaccinated and infected animals. The test will be based on the use of recombinant FMD non-structural protein (NSP) i.e. protein which is not present in purified killed FMD vaccine (Read More: PDF).

(b) Develop and transfer to Member States tools for the conservation and management of animal genetic resources. Examples are:

The discovery, characterization and application of molecular markers for:
  • Livestock genetic conservation programmes applying DNA microsatellite analysis,
  • Traits of economic importance (e.g. gastrointestinal parasite resistance in sheep).
Indeed, the use of these genetic markers will help to increase the speed and efficiency of genetic improvements in a population. Making this genetic and genomic information available for application in small ruminant genetic programs can help make genetic improvements via Marker Assisted Selection (MAS) or Introgression (MAI) a reality.
Animal Production and Health Laboratory (APHL)

Capacity building in Member States

Animal Production and Health Laboratory (APHL) APHL is hosting scientists from Member States for both individual and group training in animal disease diagnosis and animal genetics techniques.
These are “train-the trainer” programmes i.e. intended for individuals who have the ability to transfer and disseminate the acquired knowledge within their home institute/countries.

The Laboratory produces an Annual Report which is available for downloading together with the biannual Newsletter on the Sub-Programme's present and future activities.

For further information please contact the Head, Animal Production and Health Laboratory,