Semester of Graduation

Spring 2023


Master of Science (MS)


College of Agriculture

Document Type



Foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) is the causative agent for foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) that infects primarily cloven-hoofed animals, the majority of which are domesticated cattle and other important livestock. FMD is highly transmissible and found in all secretions and excretions of infected animals. North America, Europe, and Australia have successfully eradicated the virus with the help of a well-defined fiscal infrastructure and access to successful control measures. Less developed regions, including many Asian and African countries, have maintained an endemic status for decades. African territories are of particular concern because of the indigenous African Buffalo population that serves as an important FMDV reservoir. Incursion of FMDV among livestock herds leads to a precipitous decline in productivity and causes irrevocable economic hardships to these farmers. Once an outbreak has occurred, international trade of livestock and animal product exports are prohibited, further devastating the economy. Control of FMDV in endemic regions must include reliable diagnosis through differentiation between infected and previously vaccinated livestock, access to limited emergency vaccine resources, proper sanitary methods including farm biosecurity and quarantining and culling of infected livestock. Existing FMD vaccination includes killed or inactivated and synthetic proteins that offer only short-term immunity and require repeated booster and adjuvant administration. Other challenges with this vaccine platform include a lack of cross-protectionagainst multiple strains, the need for a cold storage, and the risk of reinfection in previously protected livestock due to short-term immunity. To overcome these challenges, the research utilized recombinant DNA technology to produce a safer and cost-effective vaccine. Prior research demonstrates that the structural proteins of the virus exhibit immunogenic potential through capsid stability, antigen binding, and multi-epitope formation. Using this information, a plasmid-based vaccine expressing a multi-epitope protein was designed with a composite of the major FMDV antigens defined in the literature. This model offers a potential multi-epitope DNA based vaccine design as a cost-effective and non-pathogenic alternative for the protection against FMD. If successful, vaccinated animals could be differentiated from infected animals using an optimized specific diagnostic assay for antibody detection. The design, construction, and initial testing of the vaccine are discussed.



Committee Chair

Cooper, Richard K.