Project description:The functional properties of haemoglobin from the Lesser Rorqual whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) have been characterized as a function of the heterotropic effector concentrations and temperature. The results obtained suggest the existence of sophisticated modulation mechanisms based on the interplay of organic phosphates, carbon dioxide, lactate and temperature. These, together with the very small apparent heat of oxygenation (delta H) of oxygen binding, have been physiologically interpreted on the basis of the specific metabolic needs of this diving mammal.
Project description:For decades, the bio-duck sound has been recorded in the Southern Ocean, but the animal producing it has remained a mystery. Heard mainly during austral winter in the Southern Ocean, this ubiquitous sound has been recorded in Antarctic waters and contemporaneously off the Australian west coast. Here, we present conclusive evidence that the bio-duck sound is produced by Antarctic minke whales (Balaenoptera bonaerensis). We analysed data from multi-sensor acoustic recording tags that included intense bio-duck sounds as well as singular downsweeps that have previously been attributed to this species. This finding allows the interpretation of a wealth of long-term acoustic recordings for this previously acoustically concealed species, which will improve our understanding of the distribution, abundance and behaviour of Antarctic minke whales. This is critical information for a species that inhabits a difficult to access sea-ice environment that is changing rapidly in some regions and has been the subject of contentious lethal sampling efforts and ongoing international legal action.
Project description:Marine mammals are an important part of ocean ecosystems, of which, whales play a vital role in the marine food chain. In this study, the mucosa and contents from different intestinal tract segments (ITSs) of a stranded dwarf minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) were analyzed. The gut microbiota were sequenced using high-throughput sequencing technology, based on a 16S rRNA approach. The microbial composition of the intestinal mucosa and its contents were similar in every single ITS. Large intestine microbiota richness and diversity were significantly higher when compared to the duodenum and jejunum. The dominant bacteria in the gut were Firmicutes and Actinobacteria; the former was enriched in the large intestine, whereas the latter was more abundant in the duodenum and jejunum. Our findings provide novel insights for microbiota in B. acutorostrata.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Although Morbillivirus and Toxoplasma gondii have emerged as important pathogens for several cetaceans populations over the last 20 years, they have never been identified together in a Mysticete. In particular, morbilliviral infection has been never described in the Mediterranean fin whale population. CASE PRESENTATION: On January 2011 an adult male of fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) stranded along the Tyrrhenian coastline of Italy. During necropsy, tissue samples from heart, skeletal muscle, mesenteric lymph nodes, liver, spleen, lung, and kidney were collected and subsequently analyzed for Morbillivirus and Toxoplasma gondii by microscopic and molecular methods. Following the detailed necropsy carried out on this whale, molecular analysis revealed, for the first time, the simultaneous presence of a Dolphin Morbillivirus (DMV) and T. gondii infection coexisting with each other, along with high organochlorine pollutant concentrations, with special reference to DDT. CONCLUSION: This report, besides confirming the possibility for Mysticetes to be infected with DMV, highlights the risk of toxoplasmosis in sea water for mammals, already immunodepressed by concurrent factors as infections and environmental contaminants.
Project description:Dolphin morbillivirus (DMV) has been deemed as one of the most relevant threats for fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) being responsible for a mortality outbreak in the Mediterranean Sea in the last years. Knowledge of the complete viral genome is essential to understand any structural changes that could modify virus pathogenesis and viral tissue tropism. We report the complete DMV sequence of N, P/V/C, M, F and H genes identified from a fin whale and the comparison of primary to quaternary structure of proteins between this fin whale strain and some of those isolated during the 1990-'92 and the 2006-'08 epidemics. Some relevant substitutions were detected, particularly Asn52Ser located on F protein and Ile21Thr on N protein. Comparing mutations found in the fin whale DMV with those occurring in viral strains of other cetacean species, some of them were proven to be the result of diversifying selection, thus allowing to speculate on their role in host adaptation and on the way they could affect the interaction between the viral attachment and fusion with the target host cells.
Project description:There are three described subspecies of fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus): B. p. physalus Linnaeus, 1758 in the Northern Hemisphere, B. p. quoyi Fischer, 1829 in the Southern Hemisphere, and a recently described pygmy form, B. p. patachonica Burmeister, 1865. The discrete distribution in the North Pacific and North Atlantic raises the question of whether a single Northern Hemisphere subspecies is valid. We assess phylogenetic patterns using ~16 K base pairs of the complete mitogenome for 154 fin whales from the North Pacific, North Atlantic--including the Mediterranean Sea--and Southern Hemisphere. A Bayesian tree of the resulting 136 haplotypes revealed several well-supported clades representing each ocean basin, with no haplotypes shared among ocean basins. The North Atlantic haplotypes (n = 12) form a sister clade to those from the Southern Hemisphere (n = 42). The estimated time to most recent common ancestor (TMRCA) for this Atlantic/Southern Hemisphere clade and 81 of the 97 samples from the North Pacific was approximately 2 Ma. 14 of the remaining North Pacific samples formed a well-supported clade within the Southern Hemisphere. The TMRCA for this node suggests that at least one female from the Southern Hemisphere immigrated to the North Pacific approximately 0.37 Ma. These results provide strong evidence that North Pacific and North Atlantic fin whales should not be considered the same subspecies, and suggest the need for revision of the global taxonomy of the species.