Nathalie Bissonnette, PhD.

Image Nathalie Bissonnette
Research Scientist, animal genomics

Helping to advance animal health research and encourage natural resistance to disease using an integrated approach in animal genomics.

Current research and/or projects

Dr Nathalie Bissonnette focuses her research activities on animal immunogenetics, immunotolerance and immunoregulation in response to nutrients, the environment and contacts with pathogens. This includes identifying genetic and epigenetic markers and environmental factors that influence the immune system. Her research helps formulate nutritional interventions that support natural resistance to disease. She uses advanced sequencing technologies and next‑generation genotyping to identify genetic and epigenetic markers, gene expression profiles (transcriptome) and network regulators (IncRNAs, microRNAs) that govern resistance or sensitivity to disease, particularly to bovine paratuberculosis.

Dr Nathalie Bissonnette joined Agriculture and Agri‑Food Canada’s Sherbrooke Research and Development Centre in 2001. She has used her expertise in molecular biology and animal genomics in numerous projects, primarily relating to pigs and dairy cows. Her work targets the following sector goals: (1) eliminating threats in the agriculture and agri-food value chain; (2) supporting a healthy agricultural sector.

Research and/or project statements

Uncovering susceptibility to paratuberculosis by studying the host’s genetics and the dynamics of the infection of strains with varied genetics (mixed genotype infection) to understand susceptibility to and disease progression – Growing Forward 3 (AAFC), Dairy cluster

Animal genomics for resistance to paratuberculosis – Project targeted by AAFC

Developing innovative strategies and analytical tools to identify cows affected by paratuberculosis, that is, infected by the mycobacterium avium ssp paratuberculosis – AAFC A‑Base

Neonatal nutritional interventions using bovine colostrum and/or vitamin D and copper (Cu) and their programming effects on the oxidative status, the maturing of the immune system and the development of intestinal microbial populations among piglets – Growing Forward II (AAFC), Swine cluster II

Understanding intestinal microbiota and immune responses of the host to probiotics and colostrum to improve the intestinal health of pigs – AAFC A‑Base

Developing food technologies and strategies to improve intestinal health and limit the use of antibiotics in monogastric animal production – Growing Forward III (AAFC), Swine cluster II

Molecular and biochemical characterization of the osteopontin bioactive molecule that is secreted in cow’s milk: Functional activities of genetic variants and isoforms – AAFC A‑Base

Professional activities / interests

  • Member: GRESABO (research group on bovine health)
  • Member: International Association for Paratuberculosis
  • Member: Op+lait, research group on milk quality; FQRNT strategic group program
  • Member: Dairy Cattle Breeding and Genetics Committee, Canada
  • Member: Institutional Animal Care Committee
  • Editorial board member: the journal Gene
  • Member: Canadian Society of Animal Science
  • Member: American Dairy Science Association

         Interests: nutritional intervention, epigenetics, immunotolerance, immunization

Education and awards


Post-doc Agriculture et Agriculture Canada (1999-2000)

PhD/MSc. Radiobiologie/Oncologie (Université de Sherbrooke) 1998

Bacc Biotechnologie (Université de Sherbrooke) 1994


Recognition awards:

(1) Distinction: Merit list of the dean of the faculty of medicine, Université de Sherbrooke, 1997–1998; (2) Gordon Fisher award (1997), faculty of medicine, Université de Sherbrooke, for research excellence; (3) Jean-Pierre Caillé award (1997) given by the Université de Sherbrooke medical research council, awarded during Science Day; (4) Distinction: Merit list  of the dean of the faculty of medicine, Université de Sherbrooke, 1991–1992, scholarship; (5) FCAR (funds for researcher training and research assistance), 1991–1992; (6) Scholarship for the Master of Science, Université de Sherbrooke, 1990–1991; (7) Scholarship for the health sciences research program 1989–1990, granted by the faculty of medicine, Université de Sherbrooke; (8) Scholarship awarded by the Université de Sherbrooke medical research centre (CRMUS), summer 1989; (9) Distinction awarded during the symposium in Ottawa, Canada, organized by the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of Canada (PMAC), November 1989; (10) Award from the PMAC foundation, Scholarship for the Bachelor of Science, 1989.

International experience and/or work

Epidemiologic typing of strains of the mycobacterium avium ssp paratuberculosis (MAP) in collaboration with the animal mycobacterial infections team at INRA, France (, to document the genetic diversity of MAP infections in North America.  

Guest researcher (1994–1995), Université Pasteur (France), at the Institute of Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology.

Key publications

  1. Byrne, A., Ollier, S., Tahlan, K., Biet, F., Bissonnette, N. (2023). Genomic epidemiology of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis isolates from Canadian dairy herds provides evidence for multiple infection events. Frontiers in Genetics, [online] 14

    2023 - View publication details

  2. Wang, M., M. Laterrière, P.-L. Dudemaine, N. Bissonnette, D. Gagné, and E. M. Ibeagha-Awemu. 2022. PSVIII-B-15 Potential Involvement of DNA Methylation of First Intron in Transcriptional Regulation During Bovine Subclinical Mastitis Caused by Staphylococcus Aureus. Journal of Animal Science 100(Supplement_3):310-311. doi: 10.1093/jas/skac247.565 %J Journal of Animal Science

    2022 - View publication details

  3. Byrne, A., O. Severine, T. Cochard, K. Tahlan, F. Biet, and N Bissonnette. 2022. Genetic typing of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis strains isolated from 14 cows shedding high levels of MAP in the Provinces of Quebec and Ontario Herds. 15th International Colloquium on Paratuberculosis, Dublin, Irland, June 12-16th 2022.

    2022 - View publication details

  4. Bissonnette, N., D. Kelton, G. Fecteau, K. Tahlan, E. Ibeagha-Awemu, and P. Griebel. 2022. Identification of disease tolerant and susceptible cows to Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis infection for genetic analyses of disease resistance. 15th International Colloquium on Paratuberculosis. Dublin, Irland, June 12-16 2022.

    2022 - View publication details

  5. Ariel, O., Brouard, J.S., Marete, A., Miglior, F., Ibeagha-Awemu, E., Bissonnette, N. (2021). Genome-wide association analysis identified both RNA-seq and DNA variants associated to paratuberculosis in Canadian Holstein cattle ‘in vitro’ experimentally infected macrophages. BMC Genomics, [online] 22(1),

    2021 - View publication details

  6. 2021 Marete, A. and N. Bissonnette. SnpRecode: A Versatile and Fast Genotype Recoding and Correlation Function. Research

    2021 - View publication details

  7. Are some cows genetically susceptible to Johne’s Disease?

    2021 - View publication details

  8. Mallikarjunappa, S., Shandilya, U.K., Sharma, A., Lamers, K., Bissonnette, N., Karrow, N.A., Meade, K.G. (2020). Functional analysis of bovine interleukin-10 receptor alpha in response to Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis lysate using CRISPR/Cas9. BMC Genetics, [online] 21(1),

    2020 - View publication details

  9. Nathalie Bissonnette, Andrew Marete, Dave Kelton, Flavio Schenkel, Eveline M Ibeagha-Awemu, Gilles Fecteau, Filippo Miglior, Conditional GWAS using sequence-based genotypes for susceptibility to Mycobacterium avium subsp paratuberculosis infection in Canadian Holstein, Journal of Animal Science, Volume 98, Issue Supplement 4, November 2020, Page 17.

    2020 - View publication details

  10. S. Mallikarjunappa, F. S. Schenkel, L. F. Brito, N. Bissonnette, K. G. Meade, F. Miglior, J. Chesnais, M. Lohuis, and N. A. Karrow. 2019. Association of SNPs related to Johne’s disease with Holstein bulls EBVs for milk ELISA test scores. 37th International Society for Animal Genetics Conference, Lleida, Spain, July 7-12.

    2019 - View publication details

  11. Lessard, M., Blais, M., Beaudoin, F., Deschene, K., Verso, L.L., Bissonnette, N., Lauzon, K., Guay, F. (2018). Piglet weight gain during the first two weeks of lactation influences the immune system development. Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology, [online] 206 25-34.

    2018 - View publication details

  12. Bissonnette, N., D. Gendron, O. Ariel, P.-L. Dudemaine, and E. Ibeagha-Awemu. Transcriptome profiling of primary bovine macrophages from cows with Johne’s disease suggests a tolerance state induced by convergent signalling via NF-κB and its synergistic tolerized genes. ASAS-CSAS Annual Meeting & Trade Show, Vancouver, Canada, July 8-12th.

    2018 - View publication details

  13. Bissonnette, N., J.-S. Brouard, O. Ariel, N. Gévry, E. Ibeagha-Awemu, and F. Miglior. 2018. Discovery of expression quantitative trait loci associated with Johne’s disease using both RNA-seq and DNA variants. 11th World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production. February 10th-16th 2018, Auckland, New-Zealand.

    2018 - View publication details

  14. Do D.N., Fomenky B.E., Dudemaine P-L., Bissonnette N. and Ibeagha-Awemu E.M. (2018) Weighted gene co-expression network analysis reveal gene clusters and pathways related to rumen development in calves. Proceedings of the 11th World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Productio, 11.945, February 11 to 16, 2018, Auckland New Zealand. 5 pages.

    2018 - View publication details

  15. Brouard and Bissonnette. 2018. Is the GATK joint variant discovery approach appropriate for calling variants in RNA-Seq experiments? Plant and Animal Genome Conference XXVI, Jan 13th-17th 2018, San diego USA.

    2018 - View publication details

  16. N. Bissonnette, Genetic association of variations in the osteopontin gene (SPP1) with lactation persistency in dairy cattle. 2017 Journal of Dairy Science. in press

    2017 - View publication details

  17. Brouard, J.S., Boyle, B., Ibeagha-Awemu, E.M., Bissonnette, N. (2017). Low-depth genotyping-by-sequencing (GBS) in a bovine population: Strategies to maximize the selection of high quality genotypes and the accuracy of imputation. BMC Genetics, [online] 18(1),

    2017 - View publication details

  18. Do, D.N., Bissonnette, N., Lacasse, P., Miglior, F., Sargolzaei, M., Zhao, X., Ibeagha-Awemu, E.M. (2017). Genome-wide association analysis and pathways enrichment for lactation persistency in Canadian Holstein cattle. Journal of Dairy Science (JDS), [online] 100(3), 1955-1970.

    2017 - View publication details

  19. Bissonnette, N., J.-S. Brouard, B. Boyle, and E. Ibeagha-Awemu. 2017. Low-Depth Genotyping-by-Sequencing (GBS) in a Bovine Population: Strategies to Maximize the Selection of High Quality Genotypes and Accuracy of Imputation. Plant & Animal Genome Plant & Animal Genome Conference, San Diego 2017/01/14 - 2017/01/18

    2017 - View publication details

  20. Fock-Chow-Tho, D., Topp, E., Ibeagha-Awemu, E.A., Bissonnette, N. (2017). Comparison of commercial DNA extraction kits and quantitative PCR systems for better sensitivity in detecting the causative agent of paratuberculosis in dairy cow fecal samples. Journal of Dairy Science (JDS), [online] 100(1), 572-581.

    2017 - View publication details

Research facility

2000 College Street
Sherbrooke, QC J1M 0C8


Adjunct professor, Université de Sherbrooke



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