Project description:Many studies have attempted to shed light on the ability of non-human animals to understand physical causality by investigating their tool-use behavior. This study aimed to develop a tool-manipulation task for rodents in which the subjects could not manipulate the tool in the direction of the reward by simple patterned behavior. Eight rats had to use a rake-shaped tool to obtain a food reward placed beyond their reach. During the training, the rats never moved the rakes laterally to obtain the reward. However, in the positional discrimination test, the rake was placed at the center of the experimental apparatus, and the reward was positioned on either the left or right side of the rake. Interestingly, this test indicated that some rats were able to manipulate the rake toward the reward without relying on a patterned behavior acquired during the training. These results suggested that rats have the primitive ability to understand causal relationships in the physical environment. The findings indicate that rats can potentially serve as an animal model to investigate the mechanisms of evolution and development of the understanding of physical causality in humans.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Hepatitis E virus (HEV) transmitted via the oral route through the consumption of contaminated water or uncooked or undercooked contaminated meat has been implicated in major outbreaks. Rats may play a critical role in HEV outbreaks, considering their negative effects on environmental hygiene and food sanitation. Although the serological evidence of HEV infection in wild rodents has been reported worldwide, the infectivity and propagation of HEV in wild rats remain unknown. To investigate if rats are a possible carrier of HEV, we studied wild Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus) that were caught near a pig farm, where HEV was prevalent among the pigs. METHODS: We examined 56 Norway rats for HEV. RNA from internal organs was examined for RT-PCR and positive samples were sequenced. Positive tissue samples were incubated with A549 cell line to isolate HEV. Anti-HEV antibodies were detected by ELISA. RESULTS: Sixteen rats were seropositive, and the HEV RNA was detected in 10 of the 56 rats. Sequencing of the partial ORF1 gene from 7 samples resulted in partially sequenced HEV, belonging to genotype 3, which was genetically identical to the HEV prevalent in the swine from the source farm. The infectious HEVs were isolated from the Norway rats by using the human A549 cell line. CONCLUSIONS: There was a relatively high prevalence (17.9%) of the HEV genome in wild Norway rats. The virus was mainly detected in the liver and spleen. The results indicate that these animals might be possible carrier of swine HEV in endemic regions. The HEV contamination risk due to rats needs to be examined in human habitats.
Project description:Beta-defensins are small cationic peptides that exhibit broad spectrum antimicrobial properties. The majority of beta-defensins identified in humans are predominantly expressed in the male reproductive tract and have roles in non-immunological processes such as sperm maturation and capacitation. Characterization of novel defensins in the male reproductive tract can lead to increased understanding of their dual roles in immunity and sperm maturation.In silico rat genomic analyses were used to identify novel beta-defensins related to human defensins 118-123. RNAs isolated from male reproductive tract tissues of rat were reverse transcribed and PCR amplified using gene specific primers for defensins. PCR products were sequenced to confirm their identity. RT-PCR analysis was performed to analyze the tissue distribution, developmental expression and androgen regulation of these defensins. Recombinant defensins were tested against E. coli in a colony forming unit assay to analyze their antimicrobial activities.Novel beta-defensins, Defb21, Defb24, Defb27, Defb30 and Defb36 were identified in the rat male reproductive tract. Defb30 and Defb36 were the most restricted in expression, whereas the others were expressed in a variety of tissues including the female reproductive tract. Early onset of defensin expression was observed in the epididymides of 10-60 day old rats. Defb21-Defb36 expression in castrated rats was down regulated and maintained at normal levels in testosterone supplemented animals. DEFB24 and DEFB30 proteins showed potent dose and time dependent antibacterial activity.Rat Defb21, Defb24, Defb27, Defb30 and Defb36 are abundantly expressed in the male reproductive tract where they most likely protect against microbial invasion. They are developmentally regulated and androgen is required for full expression in the adult epididymis.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Murine kobuviruses (MuKV) are newly recognized picornaviruses first detected in murine rodents in the USA in 2011. Little information on MuKV epidemiology in murine rodents is available. Therefore, we conducted a survey of the prevalence and genomic characteristics of rat kobuvirus in Guangdong, China. RESULTS:Fecal samples from 223 rats (Rattus norvegicus) were collected from Guangdong and kobuviruses were detected in 12.6% (28) of samples. Phylogenetic analysis based on partial 3D and complete VP1 sequence regions showed that rat kobuvirus obtained in this study were genetically closely related to those of rat/mouse kobuvirus reported in other geographical areas. Two near full-length rat kobuvirus genomes (MM33, GZ85) were acquired and phylogenetic analysis of these revealed that they shared very high nucleotide/amino acids identity with one another (95.4%/99.4%) and a sewage-derived sequence (86.9%/93.5% and 87.5%/93.7%, respectively). Comparison with original Aichivirus A strains, such human kobuvirus, revealed amino acid identity values of approximately 80%. CONCLUSION:Our findings indicate that rat kobuvirus have distinctive genetic characteristics from other Aichivirus A viruses. Additionally, rat kobuvirus may spread via sewage.
Project description:Native to China and Mongolia, the brown rat (Rattus norvegicus) now enjoys a worldwide distribution. While black rats and the house mouse tracked the regional development of human agricultural settlements, brown rats did not appear in Europe until the 1500s, suggesting their range expansion was a response to relatively recent increases in global trade. We inferred the global phylogeography of brown rats using 32 k SNPs, and detected 13 evolutionary clusters within five expansion routes. One cluster arose following a southward expansion into Southeast Asia. Three additional clusters arose from two independent eastward expansions: one expansion from Russia to the Aleutian Archipelago, and a second to western North America. Westward expansion resulted in the colonization of Europe from which subsequent rapid colonization of Africa, the Americas and Australasia occurred, and multiple evolutionary clusters were detected. An astonishing degree of fine-grained clustering between and within sampling sites underscored the extent to which urban heterogeneity shaped genetic structure of commensal rodents. Surprisingly, few individuals were recent migrants, suggesting that recruitment into established populations is limited. Understanding the global population structure of R. norvegicus offers novel perspectives on the forces driving the spread of zoonotic disease, and aids in development of rat eradication programmes.
Project description:Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is an important cause of multi-drug-resistant infections in people, particularly indigent populations. MRSA can be transmitted between people and domestic animals, but the potential for transmission between people and commensal pests, particularly rodents, had not been investigated. The objective of this study was to identify the presence and characterize the ecology of MRSA in rats (Rattus spp.) from in an impoverished, inner-city neighborhood. Oropharyngeal swabs were collected from rats trapped in 33 city blocks and one location within the adjacent port. Bacterial culture was performed and MRSA isolates were characterized using a variety of methods, including whole-genome sequencing (WGS). The ecology of MRSA in rats was described using phylogenetic analysis, geospatial analysis, and generalized linear mixed models. MRSA was identified 22 of 637 (3.5%) rats tested, although prevalence varied from 0 - 50% among blocks. Isolates belonged to 4 clusters according to WGS, with the largest cluster (n?=?10) containing isolates that were genetically indistinguishable from community-acquired USA300 MRSA strains isolated from people within the study area. MRSA strains demonstrated both geographic clustering and dispersion. The odds of an individual rat carrying MRSA increased with increased body fat (OR?=?2.53, 95% CI?=?1.33-4.82), and in the winter (OR?=?5.29, 95% CI?=?1.04-26.85) and spring (OR?=?5.50, 95% CI?=?1.10-27.58) compared to the fall. The results show that urban rats carried the same MRSA lineages occurring in local human and/or animal populations, supporting recent transmission from external sources. MRSA carriage was influenced by season, most likely as a result of temporal variation in rat behavior and rat-human interactions.
Project description:Brown rats (Rattus norvegicus) have been identified as potential carriers of Yersinia enterocolitica and Y. pseudotuberculosis, the etiological agents of yersiniosis, the third most reported bacterial zoonosis in Europe. Enteropathogenic Yersinia spp. are most often isolated from rats during yersiniosis cases in animals and humans, and from rats inhabiting farms and slaughterhouses. Information is however lacking regarding the extent to which rats act as carriers of these Yersinia spp.. In 2013, 1088 brown rats across Flanders, Belgium, were tested for the presence of Yersinia species by isolation method. Identification was performed using MALDI-TOF MS, PCR on chromosomal- and plasmid-borne virulence genes, biotyping and serotyping. Yersinia spp. were isolated from 38.4% of the rats. Of these, 53.4% were designated Y. enterocolitica, 0.7% Y. pseudotuberculosis and 49.0% other Yersinia species. Two Y. enterocolitica possessing the virF-, ail- and ystA-gene were isolated. Additionally, the ystB-gene was identified in 94.1% of the other Y. enterocolitica isolates, suggestive for biotype 1A. Three of these latter isolates simultaneously possessed the ail-virulence gene. Significantly more Y. enterocolitica were isolated during winter and spring compared to summer. Based on our findings we can conclude that brown rats are frequent carriers for various Yersinia spp., including Y. pseudotuberculosis and (human pathogenic) Y. enterocolitica which are more often isolated during winter and spring.
Project description:The Norway rat has important impacts on our life. They are amongst the most used research subjects, resulting in ground-breaking advances. At the same time, wild rats live in close association with us, leading to various adverse interactions. In face of this relevance, it is surprising how little is known about their natural behaviour. While recent laboratory studies revealed their complex social skills, little is known about their social behaviour in the wild. An integration of these different scientific approaches is crucial to understand their social life, which will enable us to design more valid research paradigms, develop more effective management strategies, and to provide better welfare standards. Hence, I first summarise the literature on their natural social behaviour. Second, I provide an overview of recent developments concerning their social cognition. Third, I illustrate why an integration of these areas would be beneficial to optimise our interactions with them.
Project description:Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus) are globally distributed and concentrate in urban environments, where they live and feed in closer proximity to human populations than most other mammals. Despite the potential role of rats as reservoirs of zoonotic diseases, the microbial diversity present in urban rat populations remains unexplored. In this study, we used targeted molecular assays to detect known bacterial, viral, and protozoan human pathogens and unbiased high-throughput sequencing to identify novel viruses related to agents of human disease in commensal Norway rats in New York City. We found that these rats are infected with bacterial pathogens known to cause acute or mild gastroenteritis in people, including atypical enteropathogenic Escherichia coli, Clostridium difficile, and Salmonella enterica, as well as infectious agents that have been associated with undifferentiated febrile illnesses, including Bartonella spp., Streptobacillus moniliformis, Leptospira interrogans, and Seoul hantavirus. We also identified a wide range of known and novel viruses from groups that contain important human pathogens, including sapoviruses, cardioviruses, kobuviruses, parechoviruses, rotaviruses, and hepaciviruses. The two novel hepaciviruses discovered in this study replicate in the liver of Norway rats and may have utility in establishing a small animal model of human hepatitis C virus infection. The results of this study demonstrate the diversity of microbes carried by commensal rodent species and highlight the need for improved pathogen surveillance and disease monitoring in urban environments. Importance: The observation that most emerging infectious diseases of humans originate in animal reservoirs has led to wide-scale microbial surveillance and discovery programs in wildlife, particularly in the developing world. Strikingly, less attention has been focused on commensal animals like rats, despite their abundance in urban centers and close proximity to human populations. To begin to explore the zoonotic disease risk posed by urban rat populations, we trapped and surveyed Norway rats collected in New York City over a 1-year period. This analysis revealed a striking diversity of known pathogens and novel viruses in our study population, including multiple agents associated with acute gastroenteritis or febrile illnesses in people. Our findings indicate that urban rats are reservoirs for a vast diversity of microbes that may affect human health and indicate a need for increased surveillance and awareness of the disease risks associated with urban rodent infestation.
Project description:Inflammation is a key component of pathological angiogenesis. Here we induce cornea neovascularisation using sutures placed into the cornea, and sutures are removed to induce a regression phase. We used whole transcriptome microarray to monitor gene expression profies of several genes Overall design: This was a time course study conprising two arms. In the suture IN arm, sutures were maintained in the cornea after the 0h time point, while suture OUT arm is where both sutures were removed from the cornea at the 0h timpoint. 0h timepoint is when sprouts were 3/4 the distance from the pre-existing limbal vessels towards the sutures. Microarrays were performed at 0h, 24h suture IN and 24h suture OUT. Non sutured eyes from separate animals were used as controls. At each time point except for 0h=3 rats, the rest of the timepoints had four rats each.