In search of farmers to let us test soils for potentially helpful mycobacteriophages, known predators for mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis, aiding in research and future potential cures for Johne’s Disease.

Volunteer your soils now.

We’re a privately funded university research project concerned with Johne’s disease, an incurable and contagious disease that kills ruminants – namely cows but also horses, sheep, goats and other animals. 

If you have a dairy farm or know someone who does, please pass this along.

We are looking for volunteer farms and will be in multiple states across the US in April and May of 2019. We’re focusing on any farm that has ruminants or uses ruminant manure as fertilizer. The ideal farm is a dairy farm that HAS had cases of Johne’s disease within the past year.


Our goal in the test is to find and isolate a natural predator that targets and kills the mycobacterial bodies that cause the disease related to tuberculosis. 

The predator organism is known as a mycobacteriophage, or simply “phage.” A phage is a parasitic body that attaches itself to bacteria, infects it with its own RNA and destroys it from the inside. We believe these may be instrumental in targeting and fighting the disease in the future. 

For any farm that volunteers, we will provide results of the soil samples to at no cost. It will at a minimum, indicate if soils have been infected, and if the potential phages are present.

We are not concerned with reporting this status to anyone but for research, the farmer. We guarantee complete privacy.


Message from the USDA:

Johne’s disease is a contagious, chronic, and usually fatal infection that affects primarily the small intestine of ruminants. Johne’s disease is caused by Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis), a hardy bacterium related to the agents of leprosy and TB. Johne’s disease is found worldwide. 

Based on the 2007 Dairy NAHMS study, about 68 percent of U.S. dairy herds have at least one cow that tests positive for Johne’s with herd prevalence approaching 100% in large dairy herds. Because few herds have instituted biosecurity programs, infection continues to spread. Although infection seems less widely distributed in beef and goat herds and sheep flocks, Johne’s is nonetheless of critical significance to all producers.

Johne’s disease can have severe economic impacts on infected herds. It is imperative thatU.S. herds and flocks employ safeguards against becoming infected. Identifying and protecting noninfected herds and flocks will provide a source of breeding stock and replacement animals for others and help to reduce the national prevalence of the disease. For more information: