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    Science 12/2013; 342(6163):1185-6.
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    ABSTRACT: SUMMARY Although the compartmentalization of poultry industry components has substantial economic implications, and is therefore a concept with huge significance to poultry industries worldwide, the current requirements for compartment status are generic to all OIE member countries. We examined the consequences for potential outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza in the British poultry industry using a metapopulation modelling framework. This framework was used to assess the effectiveness of compartmentalization relative to zoning control, utilizing empirical data to inform the structure of potential epidemiological contacts within the British poultry industry via network links and spatial proximity. Conditions were identified where, despite the efficient isolation of poultry compartments through the removal of network-mediated links, spatially mediated airborne spread enabled spillover of infection with nearby premises making compartmentalization a more 'risky' option than zoning control. However, when zoning control did not effectively inhibit long-distance network links, compartmentalization became a relatively more effective control measure than zoning. With better knowledge of likely distance ranges for airborne spread, our approach could help define an appropriate minimum inter-farm distance to provide more specific guidelines for compartmentalization in Great Britain.
    Epidemiology and Infection 12/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: Salmonid alphavirus is the aetological agent of pancreas disease (PD) in marine Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar, and rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss, with most outbreaks in Norway caused by SAV subtype 3 (SAV3). This atypical alphavirus is transmitted horizontally causing a significant economic impact on the aquaculture industry. This histopathological and proteomic study, using an established cohabitational experimental model, investigated the correlation between tissue damage during PD and a number of serum proteins associated with these pathologies in Atlantic salmon. The proteins were identified by two-dimensional electrophoresis, trypsin digest and peptide MS/MS fingerprinting. A number of humoral components of immunity which may act as biomarkers of disease were also identified. For example, creatine kinase, enolase and malate dehydrogenase serum concentrations were shown to correlate with pathology during PD. In contrast, hemopexin, transferrin, and apolipoprotein, amongst others, altered during later stages of the disease and did not correlate with tissue pathologies. This approach has given new insight into not only PD but also fish disease as a whole, by characteristion of the protein response to infection, through pathological processes to tissue recovery. Salmonid alphavirus causes pancreas disease (PD) in Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar, and has a major economic impact on the aquaculture industry. A proteomic investigation of the change to the serum proteome during PD has been made with an established experimental model of the disease. Serum proteins were identified by two-dimensional electrophoresis, trypsin digest and peptide MS/MS fingerprinting with 72 protein spots being shown to alter significantly over the 12week period of the infection. The concentrations of certain proteins in serum such as creatine kinase, enolase and malate dehydrogenase were shown to correlate with tissue pathology while other proteins such as hemopexin, transferrin, and apolipoprotein, altered in concentration during later stages of the disease and did not correlate with tissue pathologies. The protein response to infection may be used to monitor disease progression and enhance understanding of the pathology of PD.
    Journal of proteomics 10/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: The emergence of evo-devo has had profound effects on how we study evolution. However, evo-devo research has tended to involve two general approaches, one being mechanistic and typological with a focus on simple, bimodal phenotypes, and the other being quantitative and focusing on multidimensional phenotypes without an understanding of underlying genetic mechanisms. Here, we suggest that, given recent technological advances in genomics, molecular biology, and morphometrics, evo-devo is poised for a reconciliation through which the field will realize far greater explanatory potential with respect to the patterns and processes that underlie adaptive phenotypic divergence. With this in mind, we review the recent literature and put forward a generalized evo-devo approach that is suitable for studies of quantitative traits in a range of taxa.
    Trends in Ecology & Evolution 07/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: Recent and historical species' associations with climate can be inferred using molecular markers. This knowledge of population and species-level responses to climatic variables can then be used to predict the potential consequences of ongoing climate change. The aim of this study was to predict responses of Rana temporaria to environmental change in Scotland by inferring historical and contemporary patterns of gene flow in relation to current variation in local thermal conditions. We first inferred colonization patterns within Europe following the last glacial maximum by combining new and previously published mitochondrial DNA sequences. We found that sequences from our Scottish samples were identical to (92%), or clustered with, the common haplotype previously identified from Western Europe. This clade showed very low mitochondrial variation, which did not allow inference of historical colonization routes but did allow interpretation of patterns of current fine-scale population structure without consideration of confounding historical variation. Second, we assessed fine-scale microsatellite-based patterns of genetic variation in relation to current altitudinal temperature gradients. No population structure was found within altitudinal gradients (average FST = 0.02), despite a mean annual temperature difference of 4.5 °C between low- and high-altitude sites. Levels of genetic diversity were considerable and did not vary between sites. The panmictic population structure observed, even along temperature gradients, is a potentially positive sign for R. temporaria persistence in Scotland in the face of a changing climate. This study demonstrates that within taxonomic groups, thought to be at high risk from environmental change, levels of vulnerability can vary, even within species.
    Molecular Ecology 05/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: There has been substantial recent interest in the possible role of oxidative stress as a mechanism underlying life-history trade-offs, particularly with regard to reproductive costs. Several recent papers have found no evidence that reproduction increases oxidative damage and so have questioned the basis of the hypothesis that oxidative damage mediates the reproduction-lifespan trade-off. However, we suggest here that the absence of the predicted relationships could be due to a fundamental problem in the design of all of the published empirical studies, namely a failure to manipulate reproductive effort. We conclude by suggesting experimental approaches that might provide a more conclusive test of the hypothesis.
    Trends in Ecology & Evolution 02/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: Emperor penguins Aptenodytes forsteri are able to survive the harsh Antarctic climate because of specialized anatomical, physiological and behavioural adaptations for minimizing heat loss. Heat transfer theory predicts that metabolic heat loss in this species will mostly depend on radiative and convective cooling. To examine this, thermal imaging of emperor penguins was undertaken at the breeding colony of Pointe Géologie in Terre Adélie (66°40' S 140° 01' E), Antarctica in June 2008. During clear sky conditions, most outer surfaces of the body were colder than surrounding sub-zero air owing to radiative cooling. In these conditions, the feather surface will paradoxically gain heat by convection from surrounding air. However, owing to the low thermal conductivity of plumage any heat transfer to the skin surface will be negligible. Future thermal imaging studies are likely to yield further insights into the adaptations of this species to the Antarctic climate.
    Biology letters 01/2013; 9(3):20121192.
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    ABSTRACT: Temporal, biological, and environmental factors affecting accumulation of perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are poorly understood in comparison with legacy lipid-soluble persistent organic pollutants. Temporal and biological comparisons of PFAS concentrations were made in great skuas (Stercorarius skua), a marine apex predator. Concentrations of 16 PFASs were quantified, including C4-C10 perfluorosulfonates (PFSAs), perfluoro-octanesulfonamide (PFOSA), and C5-C14 perfluorocarboxylates (PFCAs). Concentrations of PFASs (ng/g wet wt) were significantly higher in eggs collected in Shetland in 2008 compared with 1980 for most compounds. However, the magnitude of the differences was small, with a mean increase of 3 ng/g. Levels of PFASs in great skuas were low compared with those of other seabirds in similar ecological niches; and in contrast to other contaminants measured in the same eggs, concentrations of PFASs did not correlate with trophic level. Concentrations of PFASs in adult plasma were significantly higher in males than in females for most PFASs. This suggests that maternal transfer through egg laying may be a significant mode of elimination of PFASs in female great skuas. The low concentrations of PFASs in eggs and plasma compared with other halogenated organic contaminants and other species suggest that great skuas do not bioaccumulate PFASs to the same extent as some other seabirds. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. © 2012 SETAC.
    Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 12/2012;
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    ABSTRACT: Whole genome sequencing (WGS) technology holds great promise as a tool for the forensic epidemiology of bacterial pathogens. It is likely to be particularly useful for studying the transmission dynamics of an observed epidemic involving a largely unsampled 'reservoir' host, as for bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in British and Irish cattle and badgers. BTB is caused by Mycobacterium bovis, a member of the M. tuberculosis complex that also includes the aetiological agent for human TB. In this study, we identified a spatio-temporally linked group of 26 cattle and 4 badgers infected with the same Variable Number Tandem Repeat (VNTR) type of M. bovis. Single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) between sequences identified differences that were consistent with bacterial lineages being persistent on or near farms for several years, despite multiple clear whole herd tests in the interim. Comparing WGS data to mathematical models showed good correlations between genetic divergence and spatial distance, but poor correspondence to the network of cattle movements or within-herd contacts. Badger isolates showed between zero and four SNP differences from the nearest cattle isolate, providing evidence for recent transmissions between the two hosts. This is the first direct genetic evidence of M. bovis persistence on farms over multiple outbreaks with a continued, ongoing interaction with local badgers. However, despite unprecedented resolution, directionality of transmission cannot be inferred at this stage. Despite the often notoriously long timescales between time of infection and time of sampling for TB, our results suggest that WGS data alone can provide insights into TB epidemiology even where detailed contact data are not available, and that more extensive sampling and analysis will allow for quantification of the extent and direction of transmission between cattle and badgers.
    PLoS Pathogens 11/2012; 8(11):e1003008.
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    ABSTRACT: Developmental stress can significantly influence physiology and survival in many species. Mammalian studies suggest that pre- and post-natal stress can have different effects (i.e. hyper- or hypo-responsiveness) on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, the main mediator of the stress response. In mammals, the physiological intimacy between mother and offspring constrains the possibility to control, and therefore manipulate, maternal pre- and post-natal influences. Here, using the Japanese quail (Coturnix coturnix japonica) as our model, we elevated levels of the glucocorticoid stress hormone corticosterone in ovo and/or in the endogenous circulation of hatchlings. We examined the effects of treatments on corticosterone and glucose stress responses at two different ages, in juvenile and adult quail. In juveniles, corticosterone data revealed a sex-specific effect of post-natal treatment regardless of the previous pre-natal protocol, with post-natally treated females showing shorter stress responses in comparison with the other groups, while no differences were observed among males. In adulthood, birds previously stressed as embryos showed higher corticosterone concentrations over the stress response compared with controls. This effect was not evident in birds subjected to either post-natal treatment or the combined treatments. There were no effects on glucose in the juveniles. However, adult birds previously stressed in ovo showed opposite sex-specific basal glucose patterns compared with the other groups. Our results demonstrate that (1) early glucocorticoid exposure can have both transient and long-term effects on the HPA axis, depending upon the developmental stage and sex and (2) post-natal stress can modulate the effects of pre-natal stress on HPA activity.
    Journal of Experimental Biology 08/2012; 215(Pt 22):3955-64.
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