University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover
  • Hannover, Niedersachsen, Germany
Recent publications
Ligands for Stimulator of Interferon Genes (STING) receptor are under investigation as adjuvants in cancer therapy. Multiple effects have been described, including induction of immunogenic cell death and enhancement of CD8 T-cell mediated anti-tumor immunity. However, the potential effects of STING ligands on activation and effector functions of tumor-reactive human γδ T cells have not yet been investigated. We observed that cyclic dinucleotide as well as novel non-dinucleotide STING ligands diABZI and MSA-2 co-stimulated cytokine induction in Vδ2 T cells within peripheral blood mononuclear cells but simultaneously inhibited their proliferative expansion in response to the aminobisphosphonate Zoledronate and to γδ T-cell specific phosphoantigen. In purified γδ T cells, STING ligands co-stimulated cytokine induction but required the presence of monocytes. STING ligands strongly stimulated IL-1β and TNF-α secretion in monocytes and co-stimulated cytokine induction in short-term expanded Vδ2 γδ T-cell lines. Simultaneously, massive cell death was triggered in both cell populations. Activation of STING as revealed by TBK1/IRF3 phosphorylation and IP-10 secretion varied among STING-expressing tumor cells. STING ligands modulated tumor cell killing by Vδ2 T cells as analyzed in Real-Time Cell Analyzer to variable degree, depending on the tumor target and time course kinetics. Our study reveals complex regulatory effects of STING ligands on human γδ T cells in vitro. These results help to define conditions where STING ligands might boost the efficacy of γδ T cell immunotherapy in vivo.
The probiotic bacterial strain Enterococcus faecium SF68 has been shown to alleviate symptoms of intestinal inflammation in human clinical trials and animal feed supplementation studies. To identify factors involved in immunomodulatory effects on host cells, E. faecium SF68 and other commensal and clinical Enterococcus isolates were screened using intestinal epithelial cell lines harboring reporter fusions for NF-κB and JNK(AP-1) activation to determine the responses of host cell innate immune signaling pathways when challenged with bacterial protein and cell components. Cell-free, whole-cell lysates of E. faecium SF68 showed a reversible, inhibitory effect on both NF-κB and JNK(AP-1) signaling pathway activation in intestinal epithelial cells and abrogated the response to bacterial and other Toll-like receptor (TLR) ligands. The inhibitory effect was species-specific, and was not observed for E. avium, E. gallinarum, or E. casseliflavus. Screening of protein fractions of E. faecium SF68 lysates yielded an active fraction containing a prominent protein identified as arginine deiminase (ADI). The E. faecium SF68 arcA gene encoding arginine deiminase was cloned and introduced into E. avium where it conferred the same NF-κB inhibitory effects on intestinal epithelial cells as seen for E. faecium SF68. Our results indicate that the arginine deiminase of E. faecium SF68 is responsible for inhibition of host cell NF-κB and JNK(AP-1) pathway activation, and is likely to be responsible for the anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects observed in prior clinical human and animal trials. The implications for the use of this probiotic strain for preventive and therapeutic purposes are discussed.
Background The aim of this study was to estimate the mortality risk and associated factors within the first days of life for underweight or low-vital neonatal piglets. This risk estimation should start a discussion concerning the preconditions for timely killing of compromised newborn piglets to prevent unnecessary pain and suffering. In an observational study, various clinical and laboratory variables were examined in 529 piglets out of four farms. Body weight, crown-rump-length, rectal temperature, a 4-stage vitality score, an intrauterine-growth-retardation score, glucose, lactate, haemoglobin and immunocrit were assessed on the first day of life. Vitality was scored by three factors: movement, abdominal palpation, and colour of the skin. Afterwards the death of the piglets (by killing or spontaneously) was monitored until day 5 of age. Results Body weight, rectal temperature and vitality score were significantly associated with probability of death. Piglets with rectal temperatures ≤ 37.5 °C, a body weight < 0.86 kg and impaired vitality scores were found to have the highest probability of death until day 5 of age. Conclusion The clinical findings, identified by this model, allow a first estimation of mortality risk for newborn piglets within the first days of life. In a further step veterinarians, farmers and ethicians now need to clarify what probability of death should justifiy the killing of a newborn piglet.
High numbers of harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) end up as bycatch in gillnets every year. Acoustic alarms (pingers) have been demonstrated to be an efficient mitigation tool to prevent bycatch of this species; however, little is known about the behavioral reactions of wild porpoises to pingers. This knowledge is important for optimizing the design and use of pingers. We tracked 16 wild porpoises with a drone and recorded their behavior before and during exposure to pinger sounds. Range from the pinger to the porpoise was 158–797 m when the pinger was first activated. In four of the exposures, with pinger-to-porpoise ranges of 199–521 m, reaction to the pinger was strong avoidance behavior with increased swimming speed heading away from the pinger. Average number of surfacings decreased from 3.4 surfacings/min before pinging to 2.8 surfacings/min during pinging. Eight animals were lost from the drone’s field of view as soon as the pinger playback started, indicating that they were either diving deep or speeding away from the area very rapidly. Four animals did not respond to pinger sounds, demonstrating a diversity in the behavioral response. Neither the behavior of porpoises (i.e., foraging, socializing and traveling) before sound exposure, the animal’s initial direction in relation to the sound source, nor the porpoise-to-pinger range affected their reaction in relation to the pinger. Pingers can cause very strong aversive reactions in harbor porpoises, which explains their efficiency in reducing bycatch. The strong aversive reactions may suggest that pinger use should be limited to critical time periods and regions, or that more focus needs to be put on developing acoustic devices which cause less severe behavioral reactions. At the same time, this study shows that 25 % of animals may not react to pinger sounds, indicating a great diversity in behavioral responses.
Insulin dysregulation (ID) is a determinant of equine metabolic syndrome. Among the sphingolipids, ceramides contribute to the development of ID; however, the crosstalk between the liver and adipose tissue (AT) depots and the variation among AT depots in terms of ceramide metabolism are not well-understood. We aimed to characterize the sphingolipidome of plasma, liver, and AT (nuchal, NUAT; subcutaneous, SCAT; omental, OMAT; retroperitoneal, RPAT) and their associations with insulin response to oral glucose testing (OGT) in normoinsulinemic and hyperinsulinemic horses. Plasma, liver, and AT samples were collected from 12 Icelandic horses upon euthanasia and analyzed by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Eighty-four targeted compounds were effectively quantified. Comparing the AT depots, greater (FDR < 0.05) ceramide, dihydroceramide, and sphingomyelin concentrations and lower glucosyl- and galactosyl-ceramides were found in RPAT and OMAT than in NUAT and SCAT. Hyperinsulinemic response to OGT was associated with sphingolipidome alterations primarily in the RPAT and OMAT, while the NUAT sphingolipidome did not show signs of ceramide accumulation, which was inconsistent with the previously proposed role of nuchal adiposity in ID. The plasma sphingolipidome was not significantly associated with the liver or AT sphingolipidomes, indicating that plasma profiles are determined by an interplay of various organs. Further, hepatic sphingolipid profiles were not correlated with the profiles of AT depots. Finally, statistically valid partial least square regression models predicting insulin response were found in the plasma (Q ² = 0.58, R ² = 0.98), liver (Q ² = 0.64, R ² = 0.74), and RPAT (Q ² = 0.68, R ² = 0.79) sphingolipidome, but not in the other adipose tissues.
Several factors influence the susceptibility of cell lines to infection by different viruses. These can be related to tissue specificity of the viruses, physiological status of the cells, their differentiation level and their capacity to mount immune responses to combat viral infection. To study the influence of cell characteristics and immune responses on their susceptibility on virus infection, newly developed cell lines from common carp brain (CCAbre), fins (CCApin), gills (CCAgill), and heart (CCAcar) and the established common carp brain (CCB) cells were exposed to the carp infecting viruses cyprinid herpesvirus 3 (CyHV‐3), carp oedema virus (CEV), and the yet not fully characterized common carp paramyxovirus (CCPV). The susceptibility of these cells to viral infection was measured by formation of a cytopathic effect (CPE), estimation of viral particles produced by the cells and presence of viral mRNA in the cells. Viral susceptibility of the cells was compared to cell characteristics, measured by mRNA expression of the epithelial cell markers cadherin 1, occludin, and cytokeratin 15 and the mesenchymal cell marker vimentin, as well as to the level of type I interferon (IFN) responses. All cell lines were susceptible to CyHV‐3 and CCPV but not to CEV infection. The cell lines had different levels of type I IFN responses towards the viruses. Typically, CyHV‐3 did not induce high type I IFN responses, while CCPV induced high responses in CCAbre, CCAcar, CCApin cells but no response in CCAgill cells. Consequently, the type I IFN response modulated cell susceptibility to CCPV but not to CyHV‐3. Interestingly, when the three different passage levels of CCB cells were examined, the susceptibility of one passage was significantly lower for CyHV‐3 and higher for CCPV infection. This coincided with a loss of epithelial markers and lower type I IFN responses. This study confirms an influence of cell characteristics and immune responses on the susceptibility of carp cell lines for virus infection. Depending on the vulnerability of the virus to type I IFN responses, cells with a lower IFN‐response can be superior for replication of some viruses. Batches of CCB cells can differentiate and thus may have significantly different levels of susceptibility to certain viruses.
Background Past selection events left footprints in the genome of domestic animals, which can be traced back by stretches of homozygous genotypes, designated as runs of homozygosity (ROHs). The analysis of common ROH regions within groups or populations displaying potential signatures of selection requires high-quality SNP data as well as carefully adjusted ROH-defining parameters. In this study, we used a simultaneous testing of rule- and model-based approaches to perform strategic ROH calling in genomic data from different pig populations to detect genomic regions under selection for specific phenotypes. Results Our ROH analysis using a rule-based approach offered by PLINK, as well as a model-based approach run by RZooRoH demonstrated a high efficiency of both methods. It underlined the importance of providing a high-quality SNP set as input as well as adjusting parameters based on dataset and population for ROH calling. Particularly, ROHs ≤ 20 kb were called in a high frequency by both tools, but to some extent covered different gene sets in subsequent analysis of ROH regions common for investigated pig groups. Phenotype associated ROH analysis resulted in regions under potential selection characterizing heritage pig breeds, known to harbour a long-established breeding history. In particular, the selection focus on fitness-related traits was underlined by various ROHs harbouring disease resistance or tolerance-associated genes. Moreover, we identified potential selection signatures associated with ear morphology, which confirmed known candidate genes as well as uncovered a missense mutation in the ABCA6 gene potentially supporting ear cartilage formation. Conclusions The results of this study highlight the strengths and unique features of rule- and model-based approaches as well as demonstrate their potential for ROH analysis in animal populations. We provide a workflow for ROH detection, evaluating the major steps from filtering for high-quality SNP sets to intersecting ROH regions. Formula-based estimations defining ROHs for rule-based method show its limits, particularly for efficient detection of smaller ROHs. Moreover, we emphasize the role of ROH detection for the identification of potential footprints of selection in pigs, displaying their breed-specific characteristics or favourable phenotypes.
The insertion of an endogenous retroviral long terminal repeat (LTR) sequence into the bovine apolipoprotein B (APOB) gene is causal to the inherited genetic defect cholesterol deficiency (CD) observed in neonatal and young calves. Affected calves suffer from developmental abnormalities, symptoms of incurable diarrhoea and often die within weeks to a few months after birth. Neither the detailed effects of the LTR insertion on APOB expression profile nor the specific mode of inheritance nor detailed phenotypic consequences of the mutation are undisputed. In our study, we analysed German Holstein dairy heifers at the peak of hepatic metabolic load and exposed to an additional pathogen challenge for clinical, metabolic and hepatic transcriptome differences between wild type (CDF) and heterozygote carriers of the mutation (CDC). Our data revealed that a divergent allele-biased expression pattern of the APOB gene in heterozygous CDC animals leads to a tenfold higher expression of exons upstream and a decreased expression of exons downstream of the LTR insertion compared to expression levels of CDF animals. This expression pattern could be a result of enhancer activity induced by the LTR insertion, in addition to a previously reported artificial polyadenylation signal. Thus, our data support a regulatory potential of mobile element insertions. With regard to the phenotype generated by the LTR insertion, heterozygote CDC carriers display significantly differential hepatic expression of genes involved in cholesterol biosynthesis and lipid metabolism. Phenotypically, CDC carriers show a significantly affected lipomobilization compared to wild type animals. These results reject a completely recessive mode of inheritance for the CD defect, which should be considered for selection decisions in the affected population. Exemplarily, our results illustrate the regulatory impact of mobile element insertions not only on specific host target gene expression but also on global transcriptome profiles with subsequent biological, functional and phenotypic consequences in a natural in-vivo model of a non-model mammalian organism.
The optimum storage temperature for liquid-preserved boar semen has been empirically determined to be between 15 and 20°C. Lower temperatures provide an advantage to inhibit bacterial growth, but are regarded as critical due to the high sensitivity of boar spermatozoa to chilling injury. Higher storage temperatures are supposed to induce energy deficiency due to an insufficient depression of metabolic cell activity. However, experimental evidence for alterations of the sperm's energy status in relation to storage temperature and duration is missing. Therefore, we aimed to revisit the upper and lower storage temperature limits for liquid-preserved boar semen from the perspective of the sperm's energy metabolism. Ejaculates ( n = 7 boars) were cooled down in Beltsville Thawing Solution (BTS) to 25, 17, 10, or 5°C and stored for up to 120 h. ATP and adenylate energy charge (EC) levels were assessed at storage temperature (24, 72, and 120 h storage) and after subsequent re-warming (38°C). Sperm quality and energy status remained at a stable level in samples stored at 25 and 17°C. Chilling to and storage at 10 or 5°C in BTS provoked cold shock in a subset of sperm as shown by a loss in viability and motility ( P < 0.05), which was accompanied by a significant release of adenine nucleotides into the semen extender. Prolonged storage for 120 h resulted in significantly lower mean ATP concentrations in viable spermatozoa at 5 or 10°C compared to 17°C ( P < 0.05). Cluster analysis revealed that the main sperm subpopulation, i.e., sperm with moderate speed and linearity, decreased from 50 to 30% ( P < 0.05) in favor of slow-moving spermatozoa (5°C) or spermatozoa with a hyperactivation-like motility pattern (10°C). The results point to a sublethal imbalance in available ATP in a subset of the surviving sperm population, rather than a general decrease in available ATP in all spermatozoa. In conclusion, storing diluted boar semen at a stable temperature between 17 and 25°C is a safe procedure concerning the spermatozoa's energy status. Future concepts for hypothermic boar semen preservation below 17°C require measures which ameliorate the imbalanced energy status in viable spermatozoa.
Ataxia is an impairment of the coordination of movement or the interaction of associated muscles, accompanied by a disturbance of the gait pattern. Diagnosis of this clinical sign, and evaluation of its severity is usually done using subjective scales during neurological examination. In this exploratory study we investigated if inertial sensors in a smart phone (3 axes of accelerometer and 3 axes of gyroscope) can be used to detect ataxia. The setting involved inertial sensor data collected by smartphone placed on the dog's back while walking in a straight line. A total of 770 walking sessions were evaluated comparing the gait of 55 healthy dogs to the one of 23 dogs with ataxia. Different machine learning techniques were used with the K-nearest neighbors technique reaching 95% accuracy in discriminating between a healthy control group and ataxic dogs, indicating potential use for smartphone apps for canine ataxia diagnosis and monitoring of treatment effect.
Vaccine-associated enhanced respiratory disease (VAERD) is a severe complication for some respiratory infections. To investigate the potential for VAERD induction in COVID-19, we evaluate two vaccine leads utilizing a severe hamster infection model: a TH1-biased measles vaccine-derived candidate and a TH2-biased alum-adjuvanted, non-stabilized Spike protein. The MeV-derived vaccine protects the animals, but the protein lead induces VAERD, which can be alleviated by dexamethasone treatment. Bulk transcriptomic analysis reveals that our protein vaccine prepares enhanced host gene dysregulation in the lung, exclusively upregulating mRNAs encoding the eosinophil attractant CCL-11, TH2-driving IL-19, or TH2-cytokines IL-4, IL-5, and IL-13. scRNA-Seq identifies lung macrophages or lymphoid cells as sources, respectively. Our findings imply VAERD is caused by the concerted action of hyperstimulated macrophages and TH2 cytokine-secreting lymphoid cells and potentially links VAERD to antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE). In summary, we identify the cytokine drivers and cellular contributors, which mediate VAERD after TH2-biased vaccination.
Background Campylobacter ( C. ) species are the most common bacterial cause of foodborne diarrhea in humans. Despite colonization, most animals do not show clinical signs, making recognition of affected flocks and disruption of the infection chain before slaughter challenging. Turkeys are often cocolonized with C. jejuni and C. coli . To understand the pathogen-host-interaction in the context of two different Campylobacter species, we compared the colonization patterns and quantities in mono- and co-colonized female commercial turkeys. In three repeated experiments we investigated the impact on gut morphology, functional integrity, and microbiota composition as parameters of gut health at seven, 14, and 28 days post-inoculation. Results Despite successful Campylobacter colonization, clinical signs or pathological lesions were not observed. C. coli persistently colonized the distal intestinal tract and at a higher load compared to C. jejuni . Both strains were isolated from livers and spleens, occurring more frequently in C. jejuni- and co-inoculated turkeys. Especially in C. jejuni -positive animals, translocation was accompanied by local heterophil infiltration, villus blunting, and shallower crypts. Increased permeability and lower electrogenic ion transport of the cecal mucosa were also observed. A lower relative abundance of Clostridia UCG-014 , Lachnospiraceae , and Lactobacillaceae was noted in all inoculated groups compared to controls. Conclusions In sum, C. jejuni affects gut health and may interfere with productivity in turkeys. Despite a higher cecal load, the impact of C. coli on investigated parameters was less pronounced. Interestingly, gut morphology and functional integrity were also less affected in co-inoculated animals while the C. jejuni load decreased over time, suggesting C. coli may outcompete C. jejuni . Since a microbiota shift was observed in all inoculated groups, future Campylobacter intervention strategies may involve stabilization of the gut microbiota, making it more resilient to Campylobacter colonization in the first place.
Seasonal reproduction is widespread among primates but the degree of reproductive synchrony and plasticity can vary, even between closely related species. This study compares the dynamics of female reproductive seasonality in two mouse lemur species, Microcebus murinus and M. ravelobensis, in Ankarafantsika National Park, Madagascar, across 24 years. We collected 4321 records of female reproductive state from 1033 individual females (319 M. murinus , 714 M. ravelobensis ). The analyses revealed disparate reproductive schedules: While female M. murinus showed high degrees of reproductive synchrony throughout all years, leading to the production of two successive litters, the seasonal onset of estrus (= reproductive activation) in female M. ravelobensis was more flexible than in M. murinus , starting 2-4 weeks earlier, varying by up to 4 weeks between years, and being less synchronized. M. ravelobensis females became reproductively active later in years with more rainfall, in particular rain in February, but the timing of reproductive activation was not related to differences in temperatures. The likelihood of early conception was significantly lower in M. ravelobensis than in M. murinus . This was partly due to delayed reproductive activation in young animals, and a lower likelihood of early conception for females with low body mass in M. ravelobensis . Our results suggest high, adaptive reproductive plasticity in M. ravelobensis that may enable individuals to respond flexibly to yearly environmental changes and expand the reproductive period under favorable conditions. These species differences in reproductive schedules may be the result of the divergent evolutionary histories of the two mouse lemur species in different parts of Madagascar.
Vocal intervention is a triadic social interaction, where a third party responds vocally to a conflict between group members, minimizing the costs of aggression in response to the intervention. Because there is little information on vocal third-party intervention in nonhuman mammals, we investigated whether adult male proboscis monkeys use the bray vocalization as a vocal third-party intervention signal to intervene in intragroup conflicts. First, we audio-recorded 1,811 vocalizations from 17 free-ranging proboscis monkey groups in the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, analyzing 378 vocal responses of the adult male to agonistic vocal exchanges (shrieks) of group members. Second, we video- and audio-recorded five habituated groups in the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary investigating the context of these vocalizations and the conflict dyads evoking vocal support. We found that adult males of one-male/multifemale groups mainly uttered bray vocalizations, whereas females, immatures, and infants uttered shrieks in intragroup conflicts or in response to other animal species. The adult male uttered significantly more often brays after agonistic shrieks than expected based on the overall occurrence of brays. Brays ended 65% of agonistic conflicts, which were accompanied by vocalizations of the conflict partners and occurred more often after conflicts between females than between offspring. This suggests that the bray functions as a vocal third-party intervention signal for intragroup conflict resolution. We suggest that living in the high canopies of the tropical rainforest might restrict direct access to conflict partners and prevent physical intervention, favoring the evolution of the bray as a third-party vocal intervention signal.
Plant protection products based on Bacillus thuringiensis have been used to fight agricultural pests for decades and are the world's most frequently applied biopesticide. However, there is growing concern that B. thuringiensis residues in food may occasionally cause diarrheal illness in humans. This has recently sparked a plethora of research activities and vivid discussions across the scientific community, competent authorities, and the public. To support this discussion, we provide a structured overview of the current knowledge on the role of B. thuringiensis as a causative agent of foodborne infections in humans and pinpoint research gaps that need to be addressed for improved risk assessment. We review (i) recent taxonomic changes in the B. cereus group; (ii) the role of B. thuringiensis in transforming agrosystems; and (iii) key considerations for assessing the hazard potential of B. thuringiensis strains detected in foods. We conclude that (i) the taxonomy of the B. cereus group is collapsing, (ii) B. thuringiensis based biopesticides play a key role in realizing the UN's sustainable development goals, and (iii) risk assessment needs to move from taxonomy-driven considerations to strain-specific identification of virulence and pathogenicity traits We also provide an overview of relevant risk-related data for commonly used biopesticide strains.
It is important to understand how sympatric congeners can co-occur within the same landscapes to better understand niche differentiation and how each species respond to habitat modification. We compiled previously published, long-term data from several studies on encounter rates of two sympatric mouse lemurs (Microcebus ravelobensis and M. murinus) in different survey sites (surveyed portions of continuous forest and individual fragments) using trapping (N = 16 sites; 42 samples) and visual (N = 42 sites; 73 samples) survey methods in Ankarafantsika National Park, Madagascar (total N = 58 sites; 115 samples). A sample reflects multiple surveys, visual, and/or trapping (N = 2–21) along a line-transect and/or trapline within 1 year. We found higher encounter rates of M. ravelobensis and M. murinus in continuous forests and fragmented forests, respectively. Contrary to studies conducted at a smaller scale, yearly encounter rates for M. ravelobensis were negatively associated with rainfall but were positively associated with rainfall for M. murinus. Like previous studies, we found a negative correlation in encounter rates between M. ravelobensis and M. murinus in continuous forests. However, in fragmented forests there was a significant positive relationship between the two species. Our data suggest that M. ravelobensis preferred continuous forest habitat, whereas the congeneric M. murinus preferred fragmented forest habitat. Such results are likely related to species-specific ecological requirements: whereas the continuous forest has conditions that M. ravelobensis finds preferential (i.e., wetter, taller, and denser forests), the forest fragments are drier, habitat that is preferred by M. murinus.
The Northeast Atlantic, a highly productive maritime area, has been exposed to a wide range of direct human pressures, such as fishing, shipping, coastal development, pollution, and non-indigenous species (NIS) introductions, in addition to anthropogenically-driven global climate change. Nonetheless, this regional sea supports a high diversity of species and habitats, whose functioning provides a variety of ecosystem services, essential for human welfare. In 2017, OSPAR, the Northeast Atlantic Regional Seas Commission, delivered an assessment of marine biodiversity for the Northeast Atlantic. This assessment examined biodiversity indicators separately to identify changes in Northeast Atlantic biodiversity, but stopped short of determining the status of biodiversity for many species and habitats. Here, we expand on this work and for the first time, a semi-quantitative approach is applied to evaluate holistically the state of Northeast Atlantic marine biodiversity across marine food webs, from plankton to top predators, via fish, pelagic and benthic habitats, including xeno-biodiversity (i.e. NIS). Our analysis reveals widespread degradation in marine ecosystems and biodiversity, particularly for marine birds and coastal bottlenose dolphins, as well as for benthic habitats and fish in some regions. The poor biodiversity status of these ecosystem components is likely the result of cumulative effects of human activities, such as habitat destruction or disturbance, overexploitation, eutrophication, the introduction of NIS, and climate change. Bright spots are also revealed, such as recent signs of recovery in some fish and marine bird communities and recovery in harbour and grey seal populations and the condition of coastal benthic communities in some regions. The status of many indicators across all ecosystem components, but particularly for the novel pelagic habitats, food webs and NIS indicators, however, remains uncertain due to gaps in data, unclear pressure-state relationships, and the non-linear influence of some pressures on biodiversity indicators. Improving monitoring and data access and increasing understanding of pressure-state relationships, including those that are non-linear, is therefore a priority for enabling future assessments, as is consistent and stable resourcing for expert involvement.
There is general awareness of artificial selection and its potential implications on the health and welfare of animals. Despite growing popularity and increasing numbers of reptile breeds of atypical colour and pattern variants, only a few studies have investigated the appearance and causes of diseases associated with colour morphs. Ball pythons (Python regius) are among the most frequently bred reptiles and breeders have selected for a multitude of different colour and pattern morphs. Among those colour variants, the spider morph of the ball python is frequently associated with wobble syndrome. The aim of this study was to determine whether a morphological variant can be found and associated with the clinical occurrence of wobble syndrome in spider ball pythons, using computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging as in-vivo diagnostic methods. Data from five spider and three wild type ball pythons was assessed and evaluated comparatively. We were able to identify distinctive structural differences in inner ear morphology in spider ball pythons, which were highly likely related to wobble syndrome. To our knowledge, this is the first report of these anomalies and provides a basis for further anatomical and genetic studies and discussion of the implications for animal welfare in reptile breeding.
Phenobarbital (PB) is one of the most important antiseizure drugs (ASDs) to treat canine idiopathic epilepsy (IE). The effect of PB on the taxonomic changes in gastrointestinal microbiota (GIM) and their functions is less known, which may explain parts of its pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties, especially its antiseizure effect and drug responsiveness or drug resistance as well as its effect on behavioral comorbidities. Fecal samples of 12 dogs with IE were collected prior to the initiation of PB treatment and 90 days after oral PB treatment. The fecal samples were analyzed using shallow DNA shotgun sequencing, real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR)-based dysbiosis index (DI), and quantification of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). Behavioral comorbidities were evaluated using standardized online questionnaires, namely, a canine behavioral assessment and research questionnaire (cBARQ), canine cognitive dysfunction rating scale (CCDR), and an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) questionnaire. The results revealed no significant changes in alpha and beta diversity or in the DI, whereas only the abundance of Clostridiales was significantly decreased after PB treatment. Fecal SCFA measurement showed a significant increase in total fecal SCFA concentration and the concentrations of propionate and butyrate, while acetate concentrations revealed an upward trend after 90 days of treatment. In addition, the PB-Responder (PB-R) group had significantly higher butyrate levels compared to the PB-Non-Responder (PB-NR) group. Metagenomics of functional pathway genes demonstrated a significant increase in genes in trehalose biosynthesis, ribosomal synthesis, and gluconeogenesis, but a decrease in V-ATPase-related oxidative phosphorylation. For behavioral assessment, cBARQ analysis showed improvement in stranger-directed fear, non-social fear, and trainability, while there were no differences in ADHD-like behavior and canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD) scores after 90 days of PB treatment. While only very minor shifts in bacterial taxonomy were detected, the higher SCFA concentrations after PB treatment could be one of the key differences between PB-R and PB-NR. These results suggest functional changes in GIM in canine IE treatment.
The study of biological form is a vital goal of evolutionary biology and functional morphology. We review an emerging set of methods that allow scientists to create and study accurate 3D models of living organisms and animate those models for biomechanical and fluid dynamic analyses. The methods for creating such models include 3D photogrammetry, laser and CT-scanning, and 3D software. New multi-camera devices can be used to create accurate 3D models of living animals in the wild and captivity. New websites and virtual reality/augmented reality devices now enable the visualization and sharing of these data. We provide examples of these approaches for animals ranging from large whales to lizards and show applications for several areas: Natural history collections; body condition/scaling, bioinspired robotics, computational fluids dynamics (CFD), machine learning, and education. We provide two data sets to demonstrate the efficacy of CFD and machine learning approaches and conclude with a prospectus.
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1,002 members
Christian Gruber
  • Institute of Animal Hygiene, Animal Welfare and Animal Ethology
Hans-Peter Sallmann
  • Institute of Physiological Chemistry
Florian Geburek
  • Klinik für Pferde
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Univ.-Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Löscher
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