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  External Advisory Committee  

Daniel G. Satterlee, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus, Dept of Animal Sciences

Louisiana State University
Dept of Animal Science
 

Dr. Satterlee’s research programs at Louisiana State University have focused on two main areas.  Firstly, he is an internationally known avian endocrinologist for his work in Adrenal Stress Biology.  Secondly, he is becoming increasingly well known for his studies on Inhibin Biology as they relate to the improvement of male and female reproduction in domestic fowl. 

 Early in his career (1980), Dr. Satterlee developed, validated and published the first radioimmunoassay (RIA) for the detection of blood levels of corticosterone, the avian stress hormone.  For many years, numerous labs across the US and overseas used this pioneer RIA to advance the knowledge of avian adrenal stress physiology.  Despite the current existence of RIA kits and other equally precise and accurate, more simple and faster, and less expensive techniques (e.g., ELISAs) for measuring corticosterone, many researchers still choose to use this original RIA to detect corticosterone.  Others continue to reference his pioneer assay as the “gold standard” for purposes of assay comparison during validation experiments. 

 At LSU, Dr. Satterlee used his RIA to successfully select divergent lines of Japanese quail that differ in their adrenocortical (plasma corticosterone) response to brief mechanical restraint. This was done with the intention of producing a research model for the study of the effects of stress modulation (reduced or exaggerated) on correlated traits of economic importance in poultry.  Japanese quail were used because they are small in size, economical, easy to manage and house, and they possess a short generation interval.  More importantly, these quail are not only a valued agricultural species in many countries, but because of their similar genetic background to domestic fowl, they are also widely accepted as a model for extrapolation of findings to other, more commercially important poultry species such as chickens and turkeys.

 Over the years, Dr. Satterlee’s adrenal gland research has focused on the central theme that, although stress is sometimes an unavoidable, short-term, adaptive consequence of the many intensive rearing conditions and management practices used in modern poultry production, it may be possible to lessen the noxious effects of harmful, chronic stress responses by “altering the animal to fit its environment” (i.e., genetically select for reduced adrenocortical responsiveness).  During stress, fowl typically experience hyperadrenal activity and increased fearfulness that in turn compromises production performance and animal well being.  Dr. Satterlee and others have shown that under stress conditions, deleterious effects include: energy wastage, decreased growth, feed conversion, egg production and product quality, delayed maturation, compromised hatchability, decreased immunocompetence, the development of feather pecking, and the increased likelihood of injury, pain, and even death.  Thus, early on, the importance of developing effective and economical means of stress reduction for use in poultry farming was recognized.  The work done with the LSU quail stress response lines was conducted with this goal in mind. 

To date, the LSU stress lines have been used to conduct numerous projects that have generated a wealth of information on the physiological, morphological, and behavioral differences extant in the lines.  Perhaps the best testimony of the importance of Dr. Satterlee’s work with the lines can be found in the recent review article of Professor Bryan Jones (Roslin Institute, Scotland) that was recently published in the World’s Poultry Science Journal.  Dr. Jones, a frequent visitor and active collaborator with Dr. Satterlee during the last 15 years, is himself an internationally recognized expert in fear behavior in avians.  He wrote that genetic selection for decreased adrenocortical responsiveness, as has been done in the LSU quail low stress response line (selection which has been accompanied by less pronounced fear responses) “offers a rapid, effective, and inexpensive method to avian geneticists of reducing fear and distress in poultry and thereby a means of reducing losses in animal productivity and welfare.”  Jones’ contention is supported by numerous studies independently conducted by Dr. Satterlee as well as studies that the two scientists have jointly published using Satterlee’s lines.  Briefly, besides their readily apparent divergence in adrenal stress responsiveness to a wide variety of stressors (e.g., cold, crating, feed and water deprivation, social tension, and manual restraint), the lines differ in many other important physiological and behavioral traits. Most importantly, in comparison to quail selected for high stress response, quail selected in the opposite direction (low stress line quail), have, to date, exhibited only desirable correlated traits. For example, Dr. Satterlee has demonstrated that low stress birds show less fearfulness, greater sociality, greater body weight gain, less stress-induced cortical bone porosity, reduced heterophil:lymphocyte ratios (a reliable indicator of stress), less developmental instability, an accelerated onset of puberty in both males and females, higher egg production, and heightened male sexual activity and copulation efficiency.

 Recently, a series of studies of the genetic inheritance of stress responsiveness in the LSU quail stress response lines was undertaken at both a population genetics and molecular or gene level.  From these studies, Dr. Satterlee and co-workers were able to make specific recommendations as to how one might best design a program of selection for reduced stress responsiveness in chickens and turkeys.  The molecular work made use of modern technology, specifically amplified fragment length polymorphism-DNA techniques, to identify line-specific DNA-markers.  The identification of these genetic markers for stress responsiveness in the LSU quail may eventually prove useful in identifying similar markers in the more commercially relevant poultry species, the chicken, since DNA form Coturnix is known to hybridize with chicken DNA.  Markers for stress responsiveness in any avian species should lead to techniques for introgression of desirable genes and greatly facilitate selection to maintain or remove specific alleles.

 Other clear testimonies of the importance of Dr. Satterlee’s avian stress biology work can be found in two textbooks published in 2000: Sturkie’s Avian Physiology, Chapter 19, entitled Adrenals by Carsia and Harvey wherein 16 of Dr. Satterlee’s papers are cited, and Moberg and Mench’s The Biology of Animal Stress: Basic Principles and Implications for Animal Welfare, Chapter 14, entitled Genetic Selection to Reduce Stress in Animals by Pottinger who cites 8 Satterlee papers.  In addition, for many years, Dan’s quail stress lines have also been listed in Somes’ directory of Important Poultry Stocks.  Two most recent testaments recognizing Dr. Satterlee’s expertise in the area of avian stress biology are his 2004 invitations to speak at the 8th International Symposium on Avian Endocrinology and Joint National Meeting of the ADSA/ASAS/PSA.  While it is difficult to estimate the exact value of stress reduction to the poultry industry because stress-induced losses are for the most part hidden in unmeasured production performance decline, most would agree that annual worldwide losses would be at least in the tens of millions of dollars if not in the hundreds of millions of dollars. 

 Dr. Satterlee is also well known for his work on avian inhibin biology- patented work that has been particularly fruitful.  Inhibin is an ovarian hormone that controls the ovulation process in birds primarily through its negative feedback inhibition of brain release of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH).  FSH is responsible for the recruitment and development of follicles on the hen’s ovary.  At ovulation, the largest follicle will rupture and release its ovum into the female reproductive tract or oviduct.  This ovum (which is essentially a yolk) will be subsequently laid as a shelled egg during oviposition.  Thus, inhibin essentially serves as a “brake” on the ovulatory and oviposition processes through inhibin’s prevention of FSH release.  Using mammalian models for guidance, Dr. Satterlee developed a recombinant chicken-inhibin-based fusion protein (EggMax™) that acts as an antigen to produce anti-inhibin antibodies.  When the EggMax™ vaccine is injected into pullets, it causes antibody production that is directed towards native inhibin.  Thus, when hens are lighted to promote FSH-induction of egg lay, removal of a significant amount of the circulating inhibin pool by active immunization with EggMax™ results in more FSH and heightened egg lay.  In broiler breeder (meat-type) chickens, as much as 2 dozen extra eggs per hen housed have been realized in a 40 week period of lay using the EggMax™ vaccine. 

 Dr. Satterlee’s vaccine has significant potential for global impact on the poultry industry. Conservative estimates suggest that the use of EggMax™ would result in savings to the Louisiana, national, and worldwide poultry industries of $2 million, $88 million, and $336 million, respectively.  And, these numbers only consider the vaccine’s use on the female side.  In a preliminary study, EggMax™ was recently shown to have a positive impact on male sexual performance as well.  The vaccine increased body weight, testes weight and plasma testosterone levels in broiler breeder males as they came into sperm production and it prevented the typical age-related decline in these variables in aged roosters.  Broiler breeder males show a marked decline in sexual potency with age and the related reductions in flock fertility are occurring at an alarming rate of approximately 0.5% per generation. This ever-increasing sexual senescence has resulted in the practice of “spiking” or replacing older males with younger ones over the life cycle of hens.  Spiking and/or the practice of increasing the male:female ratio to maintain fertility in aged flocks could perhaps be lessened or eliminated if EggMax™ is proven to have a lasting and positive effect on male reproductive performance.  Some have suggested the vaccine’s value in males would be even greater than that estimated for use in females.

 Dr. Satterlee’s stress biology and inhibin work have garnered more than $2 million in grants and contracts primarily from corporate sponsors and federal and state Board of Regents (BOR) grant programs.  The inhibin studies have also resulted in the granting of 3 US patents, numerous international patents, and 3 additional US patents pending.  The technology is licensed to AgriTech Labs, Inc. of Texas who has sublicensed the technology to a major pharmaceutical company.

Dr. Satterlee is the author or co-author of 65 refereed journal articles, two book chapters, a book review, more than 100 abstracts, and 8 technical (non-refereed) publications.  He has made more than 60 presentations to local, regional, national, and international scientific and industry groups. Many of these presentations have been invited, the most noteworthy of which include talks given to (at): International Symposia on Avian Endocrinology, national Animal and Poultry Science Association meetings, the American Chemical Society, the state Board of Regents, the House Appropriations Committee of the Louisiana Legislature, Louisiana State Capital La Fete, Pennington Research Center, Louisiana Broiler Council, and Louisiana Farm Bureau. 

 Dr. Satterlee has received Commendation Letters for Excellence in Grantsmanship from the former Director of the LAES, current Chancellor of the LSUAC, and Dr. William Jenkins, President of Louisiana State University.  He is also the recipient of an LAES Outstanding HATCH Project Progress Report Award and he recently received a Letter of Appreciation for his Excellence in Teaching of Honors Biology from the COA Dean.  In a 2002 external CREES review of the research programs in Animal Science, Dr. Satterlee’s program was recommended to the Ag. Center Chancellor as one of two “Programs of Excellence.” 

 Dr. Satterlee has just finished his second term as an Associate Editor of Poultry Science, and he is an ad hoc reviewer for British Poultry Science, J. Amer. Vet. Med. Assoc. (JAVMA), Amer. J. Vet. Res. (AJVR), J. Exp. Zool. (JEZ), Animal Science, Dom. Animal Endo., Gen. Comp. Endo., J. Aust. Agricul., and the USDA/Israeli BARD and CRGO Grant Programs (Animal Growth/Development, Animal Reproductive Physiology).  He is also one of four External Advisory Committee members selected to oversee the activities of the NIH funded Arkansas BRIN (Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network).  This honor was given upon recognition of Dr. Satterlee’s extensive experience in the conduct of research under GLP (Good Laboratory Practice) conditions.

 During his graduate studies, Dr. Satterlee won two Graduate Student Paper Presentation Awards and he was inducted into Gamma Sigma Delta and Sigma Xi.  He recently received the 2002 Triad Nitrogen, Inc. Award of Excellence given to the most outstanding researcher in the LSU Agricultural Center (LSUAC) and the 2003 Gamma Sigma delta Research Award of Merit.  He currently holds membership in the World’s Poultry Science Association, Poultry Science Association, Southern Poultry Science Society, and Louisiana Poultry Federation.  He is a Class 7 Graduate of the ESCOP/ACOP Leadership Development Program and he was recently joined by invitation the prestigious Regional Project S-285 (Reproductive Physiology in Turkeys).  He is also the Leader of the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station (LAES) Poultry Research Advisory Committee and a member of the LSU Graduate Faculty, the College of Agriculture (COA) Graduate Council, the LAES/COA Animal Systems Promotion/Tenure Committee, and Faculty Senate Grievance Committee.  He is very active in the LSUAC Diversity Initiative holding membership on the Diversity Council, Community Outreach Focus Group, Commission on Gender, and Annual Diversity Program Committee, as well as being a Diversity Trainer and Trainer of Diversity Trainers for the LSUAC.  He is a faculty member of Safe Space and has just accepted responsibility as faculty advisor for the LSU student branch of Habitat for Humanity.

 

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Updated 10/14/2015

 
 

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National Institute of General Medical Sciences (P20 GM103429).

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