Wild gorillas as a potential reservoir of Leishmania major.
ABSTRACT: Vector-borne parasites of the genus Leishmania are responsible for severe human diseases. Cutaneous leishmaniasis, a common form of the disease, is most often caused by the transmission of Leishmania major to humans by female phlebotomine sand ?ies. Apes are increasingly being seen as a source of zoonotic diseases, including malaria and rickettsiosis. To examine whether gorillas harbor Leishmania species, we screened fecal samples from wild western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) in Cameroon for the presence of these pathogens. Of 91 wild gorilla fecal samples, 12 contained Leishmania parasites, and 4 contained phlebotomine sand fly vectors. The molecular identity was determined by running 3 different polymerase chain reaction tests for detection of L. major. Next, fluorescence in situ hybridization was performed to visualize L. major parasites in fecal samples from the gorillas. Both promastigote and amastigote forms of the parasite were found. This work strongly suggests that wild gorillas carry pathogenic Leishmania parasites.
Project description:Although gorillas regarded as the largest extant species of primates and have a close phylogenetic relationship with humans, eukaryotic communities have not been previously studied in these populations. Herein, 35 eukaryotic primer sets targeting the 18S rRNA gene, internal transcribed spacer gene and other specific genes were used firstly to explore the eukaryotes in a fecal sample from a wild western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla). Then specific real-time PCRs were achieved in additional 48 fecal samples from 21 individual gorillas to investigate the presence of human eukaryotic pathogens. In total, 1,572 clones were obtained and sequenced from the 15 cloning libraries, resulting in the retrieval of 87 eukaryotic species, including 52 fungi, 10 protozoa, 4 nematodes and 21 plant species, of which 52, 5, 2 and 21 species, respectively, have never before been described in gorillas. We also reported the occurrence of pathogenic fungi and parasites (i.e. Oesophagostomum bifurcum (86%), Necator americanus (43%), Candida tropicalis (81%) and other pathogenic fungi were identified). In conclusion, molecular techniques using multiple primer sets may offer an effective tool to study complex eukaryotic communities and to identify potential pathogens in the gastrointestinal tracts of primates.
Project description:Relationships between gastrointestinal parasites (GIPs) and the gastrointestinal microbiome (GIM) are widely discussed topics across mammalian species due to their possible impact on the host's health. GIPs may change the environment determining alterations in GIM composition. We evaluated the associations between GIP infections and fecal microbiome composition in two habituated and two unhabituated groups of wild western lowland gorillas (Gorilla g. gorilla) from Dzanga Sangha Protected Areas, Central African Republic. We examined 43 fecal samples for GIPs and quantified strongylid nematodes. We characterized fecal microbiome composition through 454 pyrosequencing of the V1-V3 region of the bacterial 16S rRNA gene. Entamoeba spp. infections were associated with significant differences in abundances of bacterial taxa that likely play important roles in nutrition and metabolism for the host, besides being characteristic members of the gorilla gut microbiome. We did not observe any relationships between relative abundances of several bacterial taxa and strongylid egg counts. Based on our findings, we suggest that there is a significant relationship between fecal microbiome and Entamoeba infection in wild gorillas. This study contributes to the overall knowledge about factors involved in modulating GIM communities in great apes.
Project description:Plasmodium falciparum is the most prevalent and lethal of the malaria parasites infecting humans, yet the origin and evolutionary history of this important pathogen remain controversial. Here we develop a single-genome amplification strategy to identify and characterize Plasmodium spp. DNA sequences in faecal samples from wild-living apes. Among nearly 3,000 specimens collected from field sites throughout central Africa, we found Plasmodium infection in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and western gorillas (Gorilla gorilla), but not in eastern gorillas (Gorilla beringei) or bonobos (Pan paniscus). Ape plasmodial infections were highly prevalent, widely distributed and almost always made up of mixed parasite species. Analysis of more than 1,100 mitochondrial, apicoplast and nuclear gene sequences from chimpanzees and gorillas revealed that 99% grouped within one of six host-specific lineages representing distinct Plasmodium species within the subgenus Laverania. One of these from western gorillas comprised parasites that were nearly identical to P. falciparum. In phylogenetic analyses of full-length mitochondrial sequences, human P. falciparum formed a monophyletic lineage within the gorilla parasite radiation. These findings indicate that P. falciparum is of gorilla origin and not of chimpanzee, bonobo or ancient human origin.
Project description:Pneumoviruses have been identified as causative agents in several respiratory disease outbreaks in habituated wild great apes. Based on phylogenetic evidence, transmission from humans is likely. However, the pathogens have never been detected in the local human population prior to or at the same time as an outbreak. Here, we report the first simultaneous detection of a human respiratory syncytial virus (HRSV) infection in western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) and in the local human population at a field program in the Central African Republic. A total of 15 gorilla and 15 human fecal samples and 80 human throat swabs were tested for HRSV, human metapneumovirus, and other respiratory viruses. We were able to obtain identical sequences for HRSV A from four gorillas and four humans. In contrast, we did not detect HRSV or any other classic human respiratory virus in gorilla fecal samples in two other outbreaks in the same field program. Enterovirus sequences were detected but the implication of these viruses in the etiology of these outbreaks remains speculative. Our findings of HRSV in wild but human-habituated gorillas underline, once again, the risk of interspecies transmission from humans to endangered great apes.
Project description:Chimpanzees and gorillas are the only nonhuman primates known to harbor viruses closely related to HIV-1. Phylogenetic analyses showed that gorillas acquired the simian immunodeficiency virus SIVgor from chimpanzees, and viruses from the SIVcpz/SIVgor lineage have been transmitted to humans on at least four occasions, leading to HIV-1 groups M, N, O, and P. To determine the geographic distribution, prevalence, and species association of SIVgor, we conducted a comprehensive molecular epidemiological survey of wild gorillas in Central Africa. Gorilla fecal samples were collected in the range of western lowland gorillas (n = 2,367) and eastern Grauer gorillas (n = 183) and tested for SIVgor antibodies and nucleic acids. SIVgor antibody-positive samples were identified at 2 sites in Cameroon, with no evidence of infection at 19 other sites, including 3 in the range of the Eastern gorillas. In Cameroon, based on DNA and microsatellite analyses of a subset of samples, we estimated the prevalence of SIVgor to be 1.6% (range, 0% to 4.6%), which is significantly lower than the prevalence of SIVcpzPtt in chimpanzees (5.9%; range, 0% to 32%). All newly identified SIVgor strains formed a monophyletic lineage within the SIVcpz radiation, closely related to HIV-1 groups O and P, and clustered according to their field site of origin. At one site, there was evidence for intergroup transmission and a high intragroup prevalence. These isolated hot spots of SIVgor-infected gorilla communities could serve as a source for human infection. The overall low prevalence and sporadic distribution of SIVgor could suggest a decline of SIVgor in wild populations, but it cannot be excluded that SIVgor is still more prevalent in other parts of the geographical range of gorillas.
Project description:Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) reside in a wide range of mammals, such as autochthonous intestinal bacteria. In this paper, we present the phenotypic and phylogenetic characteristics of gorilla-specific LAB. Lactobacillus gorillae-previously isolated from the wild and captive western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla)-were successfully isolated from wild mountain gorillas (Gorilla gorilla beringei) in addition to other captive and wild western lowland gorillas. The strains from wild gorillas could ferment D-xylose, arbutine, cellobiose, and trehalose better than those from captive gorillas. By contrast, tolerance to NaCl was higher in isolates from captive gorillas than in those from wild gorillas. This tendency may have been induced by regular foods in zoos, which contain sufficient amount of salts but less amount of indigestible fiber and plant secondary metabolites compared to foods in the wild. All strains of L. gorillae showed inhibitory activities to enteric pathogenic bacteria; however, the activity was significantly higher for strains from wild gorillas than for those from captive gorillas. This may have been induced by the captive condition with routine veterinary intervention. Since L. gorillae can grow in the gastrointestinal tract of gorillas in captivity, the strains from wild mountain gorillas are potential probiotics for gorillas under captive conditions.
Project description:HIV-1, the cause of AIDS, is composed of four phylogenetic lineages, groups M, N, O, and P, each of which resulted from an independent cross-species transmission event of simian immunodeficiency viruses (SIVs) infecting African apes. Although groups M and N have been traced to geographically distinct chimpanzee communities in southern Cameroon, the reservoirs of groups O and P remain unknown. Here, we screened fecal samples from western lowland (n = 2,611), eastern lowland (n = 103), and mountain (n = 218) gorillas for gorilla SIV (SIVgor) antibodies and nucleic acids. Despite testing wild troops throughout southern Cameroon (n = 14), northern Gabon (n = 16), the Democratic Republic of Congo (n = 2), and Uganda (n = 1), SIVgor was identified at only four sites in southern Cameroon, with prevalences ranging from 0.8-22%. Amplification of partial and full-length SIVgor sequences revealed extensive genetic diversity, but all SIVgor strains were derived from a single lineage within the chimpanzee SIV (SIVcpz) radiation. Two fully sequenced gorilla viruses from southwestern Cameroon were very closely related to, and likely represent the source population of, HIV-1 group P. Most of the genome of a third SIVgor strain, from central Cameroon, was very closely related to HIV-1 group O, again pointing to gorillas as the immediate source. Functional analyses identified the cytidine deaminase APOBEC3G as a barrier for chimpanzee-to-gorilla, but not gorilla-to-human, virus transmission. These data indicate that HIV-1 group O, which spreads epidemically in west central Africa and is estimated to have infected around 100,000 people, originated by cross-species transmission from western lowland gorillas.
Project description:Charismatic great apes have been used widely and effectively as flagship species in conservation campaigns for decades. These iconic representatives of their ecosystems could also play a role as reservoirs of several zoonotic diseases. Recently it was demonstrated that African great apes can host Leishmania parasites (Kinetoplastea: Trypanosomatidae). Given that this finding raised a strong negative reaction from leishmania experts and the subsequent discussion did not lead to a clear resolution, we decided to analyze wild gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) and chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes troglodytes) fecal samples collected from the same area in Cameroon as in the original study. Fecal samples, used to circumvent the difficulties and ethics involved in obtaining blood samples from endangered wild apes, were screened by three different PCR assays for detection of Leishmania DNA. We did not detect any leishmania parasites in analyzed feces; however, sequencing of SSU rRNA revealed an unexpected diversity of free-living bodonids (Kinetoplastea: Bodonidae) and parasitic trypanosomatids (Kinetoplastea: Trypanosomatidae) other than Leishmania. A single detected Phytomonas species, found in chimpanzee feces, most likely originated from animal plant food. On the other hand, the presence of four free-living bodonid species and four parasitic insect monoxenous trypanosomatid, including two possible new species of the genus Herpetomonas, could be explained as ex post contamination of feces either from the environment or from flies (Diptera: Brachycera).
Project description:Western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) are infected with a simian immunodeficiency virus (SIVgor) that is closely related to chimpanzee and human immunodeficiency viruses (SIVcpz and HIV-1, respectively) in west central Africa. Although existing data suggest a chimpanzee origin for SIVgor, a paucity of available sequences has precluded definitive conclusions. Here, we report the molecular characterization of one partial (BQ664) and three full-length (CP684, CP2135, and CP2139) SIVgor genomes amplified from fecal RNAs of wild-living gorillas at two field sites in Cameroon. Phylogenetic analyses showed that all SIVgor strains clustered together, forming a monophyletic lineage throughout their genomes. Interestingly, the closest relatives of SIVgor were not SIVcpzPtt strains from west central African chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes troglodytes) but human viruses belonging to HIV-1 group O. In trees derived from most genomic regions, SIVgor and HIV-1 group O formed a sister clade to the SIVcpzPtt lineage. However, in a tree derived from 5' pol sequences ( approximately 900 bp), SIVgor and HIV-1 group O fell within the SIVcpzPtt radiation. The latter was due to two SIVcpzPtt strains that contained mosaic pol sequences, pointing to the existence of a divergent SIVcpzPtt lineage that gave rise to SIVgor and HIV-1 group O. Gorillas appear to have acquired this lineage at least 100 to 200 years ago. To examine the biological properties of SIVgor, we synthesized a full-length provirus from fecal consensus sequences. Transfection of the resulting clone (CP2139.287) into 293T cells yielded infectious virus that replicated efficiently in both human and chimpanzee CD4(+) T cells and used CCR5 as the coreceptor for viral entry. Together, these results provide strong evidence that P. t. troglodytes apes were the source of SIVgor. These same apes may also have spawned the group O epidemic; however, the possibility that gorillas served as an intermediary host cannot be excluded.
Project description:Western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) are designated as critically endangered and wild populations are dramatically declining as a result of habitat destruction, fragmentation, diseases (e.g., Ebola) and the illegal bushmeat trade. As wild populations continue to decline, the genetic management of the North American captive western lowland gorilla population will be an important component of the long-term conservation of the species. We genotyped 26 individuals from the North American captive gorilla collection at 11 autosomal microsatellite loci in order to compare levels of genetic diversity to wild populations, investigate genetic signatures of a population bottleneck and identify the genetic structure of the captive-born population. Captive gorillas had significantly higher levels of allelic diversity (t(7) = 4.49, P = 0.002) and heterozygosity (t(7) = 4.15, P = 0.004) than comparative wild populations, yet the population has lost significant allelic diversity while in captivity when compared to founders (t(7) = 2.44, P = 0.04). Analyses suggested no genetic evidence for a population bottleneck of the captive population. Genetic structure results supported the management of North American captive gorillas as a single population. Our results highlight the utility of genetic management approaches for endangered nonhuman primate species.