Identification of a Novel Circular DNA Virus in New Zealand Fur Seal (Arctocephalus forsteri) Fecal Matter.
ABSTRACT: Fur seal feces-associated circular DNA virus (FSfaCV) is a novel virus isolated from the fecal matter of New Zealand fur seals. FSfaCV has two main open reading frames in its 2,925-nucleotide (nt) genome. The replication-associated protein (Rep) of FSfaCV has similarity to Rep-like sequences in the Giardia intestinalis genome.
Project description:The diet of Antarctic fur seals (Arctocephalus gazella) at South Georgia is dominated by Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba). During the breeding season, foraging trips by lactating female fur seals are constrained by their need to return to land to provision their pups. Post-breeding, seals disperse in order to feed and recover condition; estimates indicate c.70% of females remain near to South Georgia, whilst others head west towards the Patagonian Shelf or south to the ice-edge. The krill fishery at South Georgia operates only during the winter, providing the potential for fur seal: fishery interaction during these months. Here we use available winter (May to September) tracking data from Platform Terminal Transmitter (PTT) tags deployed on female fur seals at Bird Island, South Georgia. We develop habitat models describing their distribution during the winters of 1999 and 2003 with the aim of visualising and quantifying the degree of spatial overlap between female fur seals and krill harvesting in South Georgia waters. We show that spatial distribution of fur seals around South Georgia is extensive, and that the krill fishery overlaps with small, highly localised areas of available fur seal habitat. From these findings we discuss the implications for management, and future work.
Project description:In some regions, little is known about exposure to viruses in coastal marine mammals. The present study aimed to detect viral RNA or DNA in 23 free-ranging fur seals on the northern coastline of Rio Grande do Sul State, Brazil. Polymerase chain reaction was used to detect nucleic acids of circoviruses, adenoviruses, morbilliviruses, vesiviruses, and coronaviruses in the feces from twenty-one South American fur seals (Arctocephalus australis) and two Subantarctic fur seals (A. tropicalis). Adenovirus DNA fragments were detected in two South American fur seals; nucleotide sequences of these fragments revealed a high degree of similarity to human adenovirus type C. Circovirus DNA fragments were detected in six animals of the same species. Two were phylogenetically similar to the Circovirus genus, whereas the other four nucleotide fragments showed no similarity to any of the known genera within the family Circoviridae. RNA fragments indicating the presence of coronavirus, vesivirus, and morbillivirus were not detected. These findings suggest that adenoviruses and circoviruses are circulating in fur seal populations found along the coast of Rio Grande do Sul State, Brazil.
Project description:Fur seals represent intermediate hosts of the cestode Clistobothrium. Large sharks are definitive hosts for these parasites. Two female, 25- and 27-year-old fur seals, caught in the 1980s at the South African coast, were examined pathomorphologically. Both animals showed multifocal, up to 1?cm in diameter large cavities of the thoracic and abdominal subcutaneous adipose tissue containing intraluminal metacestodes of tapeworms, which were surrounded by a locally extensive, pyogranulomatous panniculitis. The metacestodes (merocercoids) of one fur seal were isolated from the subcutaneous adipose tissue and characterized morphologically and for the first time from this host by molecular techniques. The morphometric data corresponded with 'delphini'-morphotype merocercoids, but the sequence of the partial 28S ribosomal RNA gene identified them as conspecific with merocercoids of the morphotype 'grimaldii'. These merocercoid types are morphologically Type XV metacestodes of marine tapeworms and represent different species of Clistobothrium. Sequence data were generated for 18S, ITS1, 5.8S, ITS2, partial 28S ribosomal DNA and partial mitochondrial cox1 gene and phylogenetic analysis of 18S rRNA and partial 28S rRNA genes identified the fur seal merocercoids as Clistobothrium species. However, it cannot yet be assigned to species level because of limited molecular data from adult stages. Most likely, both fur seals were infected as juveniles in their original habitat, the coastal regions of South Africa. The metacestode infection is probably an incidental finding, however, there is a chronic inflammatory reaction next to the subcutaneous merocercoids. It is noteworthy, that the merocercoids remain in a potentially infective stage even after more than 20 years.
Project description:In otariids, mother's recognition by pups is essential to their survival since females nurse exclusively their own young and can be very aggressive towards non-kin. Antarctic fur seal, Arctocephalus gazella, come ashore to breed and form dense colonies. During the 4-month lactation period, females alternate foraging trips at sea with suckling period ashore. On each return to the colony, females and pups first use vocalizations to find each other among several hundred conspecifics and olfaction is used as a final check. Such vocal identification has to be highly efficient. In this present study, we investigated the components of the individual vocal signature used by pups to identify their mothers by performing playback experiments on pups with synthetic signals. We thus tested the efficiency of this individual vocal signature by performing propagation tests and by testing pups at different playback distances. Pups use both amplitude and frequency modulations to identify their mother's voice, as well as the energy spectrum. Propagation tests showed that frequency modulations propagated reliably up to 64m, whereas amplitude modulations and spectral content greatly were highly degraded for distances over 8m. Playback on pups at different distances suggested that the individual identification is a two-step process: at long range, pups identified first the frequency modulation pattern of their mother's calls, and other components of the vocal signature at closer range. The individual vocal recognition system developed by Antarctic fur seals is well adapted to face the main constraint of finding kin in a crowd.
Project description:Fur seal feces-associated circular ssDNA virus (FSfaCV) was discovered in a pig for the first time in Japan using a next-generation sequencer with duplex-specific nuclease. Full genome of the virus showed approximately 92% similarity to FSfaCVs from New Zealand fur seals. Furthermore, we investigated the prevalence of the ssDNA virus in 85 piglets in Japan, and 65 piglets were positive (76%) for the virus.
Project description:While marine top predators can play a critical role in ecosystem structure and dynamics through their effects on prey populations, how the predators function in this role is often not well understood. In the Benguela region of southern Africa, the Cape fur seal (Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus) population constitutes the largest marine top predator biomass, but little is known of its foraging ecology other than its diet and some preliminary dive records. Dive information was obtained from 32 adult females instrumented with dive recorders at the Kleinsee colony (29°34.17' S, 16°59.80' E) in South Africa during 2006-2008. Most dives were in the depth range of epipelagic prey species (less than 50 m deep) and at night, reflecting the reliance of Cape fur seals on small, vertically migrating, schooling prey. However, most females also performed benthic dives, and benthic diving was prevalent in some individuals. Benthic diving was significantly associated with the frequency with which females exceeded their aerobic dive limit. The greater putative costs of benthic diving highlight the potential detrimental effects to Cape fur seals of well-documented changes in the availability of epipelagic prey species in the Benguela.
Project description:Timing is an essential parameter influencing many behaviours. A previous study demonstrated a high sensitivity of a phocid, the harbour seal (Phoca vitulina), in discriminating time intervals. In the present study, we compared the harbour seal's timing abilities with the timing abilities of an otariid, the South African fur seal (Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus). This comparison seemed essential as phocids and otariids differ in many respects and might, thus, also differ regarding their timing abilities. We determined time difference thresholds for sub- and suprasecond time intervals marked by a white circle on a black background displayed for a specific time interval on a monitor using a staircase method. Contrary to our expectation, the timing abilities of the fur seal and the harbour seal were comparable. Over a broad range of time intervals, 0.8-7 s in the fur seal and 0.8-30 s in the harbour seal, the difference thresholds followed Weber's law. In this range, both animals could discriminate time intervals differing only by 12 % and 14 % on average. Timing might, thus be a fundamental cue for pinnipeds in general to be used in various contexts, thereby complementing information provided by classical sensory systems. Future studies will help to clarify if timing is indeed involved in foraging decisions or the estimation of travel speed or distance.
Project description:The strategies that parasites use to exploit their hosts can lead to adverse effects on human and animal populations. Here, we describe the life cycle, epidemiology, and consequences of hookworm (Uncinaria sp.) disease in South American fur seals (Arctocephalus australis), and propose that hookworm adaptation to fur seal life history traits has led to maximizing transmission at high levels of parasite-induced anemia and mortality. Fur seal pups acquire hookworms during their first days of life through their mothers' colostrum and most adult hookworms are expelled from the pups' intestine 30-65 days later. This gives hookworms little time to feed and reproduce. However, despite reaching high within-host densities, female hookworms do not decrease egg output, therefore pups with high hookworm burden contribute disproportionately to parasite egg shedding. These heavily infected pups also suffer severe anemia and high levels of hookworm-induced mortality. Alternative strategies to maximize total egg shedding and/or transmission, such as increased environmental survival of larval stages or avoidance of clearance, have not been developed by this hookworm. We propose that fur seal hookworms exploit a live fast-die young life history strategy, which translates to the highest levels of host anemia and mortality recorded among hookworms.
Project description:<h4>Study objectives</h4>Our understanding of the role of neurotransmitters in the control of the electroencephalogram (EEG) has been entirely based on studies of animals with bilateral sleep. The study of animals with unihemispheric sleep presents the opportunity of separating the neurochemical substrates of waking and sleep EEG from the systemic, bilateral correlates of sleep and waking states.<h4>Methods</h4>The release of histamine (HI), norepinephrine (NE), and serotonin (5HT) in cortical and subcortical areas (hypothalamus, thalamus and caudate nucleus) was measured in unrestrained northern fur seals (Callorhinus ursinus) using in vivo microdialysis, in combination with, polygraphic recording of EEG, electrooculogram, and neck electromyogram.<h4>Results</h4>The pattern of cortical and subcortical HI, NE, and 5HT release in fur seals is similar during bilaterally symmetrical states: highest in active waking, reduced in quiet waking and bilateral slow wave sleep, and lowest in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Cortical and subcortical HI, NE, and 5HT release in seals is highly elevated during certain waking stimuli and behaviors, such as being sprayed with water and feeding. However, in contrast to acetylcholine (ACh), which we have previously studied, the release of HI, NE, and 5HT during unihemispheric sleep is not lateralized in the fur seal.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Among the studied neurotransmitters most strongly implicated in waking control, only ACh release is asymmetric in unihemispheric sleep and waking, being greatly increased on the activated side of the brain.<h4>Commentary</h4>A commentary on this article appears in this issue on page 491.
Project description:A novel RNA virus was detected in a fecal sample collected from the Antarctic fur seal (Arctocephalus gazella) in King George Island, Antarctica. The almost-complete genome sequence reveals two open reading frames and a dicistrovirus-like gene order.