Project description:Population dispersal and migration often indicate an expanded habitat and reduced inbreeding probability, and to some extend reflects improvement in the condition of the population. The Amur tiger population in the northern region of the Changbai mountain in China mostly distributes along the Sino-Russian border, next to the population in southwest Primorye in Russia. The successful dispersal westward and transboundary movement are crucial for the persistence of the Amur tiger in this area. This study explored the spatial dispersal of the population, transboundary migration, and the genetic condition of the Amur tiger population within the northern Changbai mountain in China, using occurrence data and fecal samples. Our results from 2003 to 2016 showed that the Amur tiger population in this area was spreading westward at a speed of 12.83 ± 4.41 km every three years. Genetic diversity of the Amur tiger populations in southwest Primorye was slightly different than the population in our study area, and the potential individual migration rate between these two populations was shown to be about 13.04%. Furthermore, the relationships between genetic distances and spatial distances indicated the existence of serious limitations to the dispersal of the Amur tiger in China. This study provided important information about spatial dispersal, transboundary migration, and the genetic diversity of Amur tigers in China, showed the urgent need for Amur tiger habitat restoration, and suggested some important conservation measures, such as corridor construction to eliminate dispersal barriers and joint international conservation to promote trans-boundary movement.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The gastrointestinal tracts of animals are home to large, complex communities of microbes. The compositions of these communities ultimately reflect the coevolution of microorganisms with their animal host and are influenced by the living environment, diet and immune status of the host. Gut microbes have been shown to be important for human disease and health, but little research exists in the gut microbiome of the Amur tiger, which is one of the most endangered species in the world. RESULTS:In this study, we present the use of whole-metagenome shotgun sequencing to analyze the composition and functional structures of the gut microbiota in captive Amur tigers. Our results showed a high abundance of four major phyla in captive Amur tigers, including Proteobacteria, Firmicutes, Actinobacteria and Fusobacteria. Moreover, at the genus level, Escherichia, Collinsella and Fusobacterium were most abundant in the captive Amur tiger fecal metagenome. At the species level, Escherichia coli, Fusobacterium ulcerans and Fusobacterium varium were the species with highest abundances in the captive Amur tiger gut microbiota. The primary functional categories of the Amur tiger faecal metagenome were associated mainly with Carbohydrate metabolism, Membrane transport and Amino acid metabolism based on the KEGG pathway database. The comparative metagenomic analyses showed that the captive Amur tiger fecal metagenome had a lower abundance of Spirochaetes, Cyanobacteria and Ascomycota than other animals, and the primary functional categories were primarily associated with carbohydrate metabolism subsystems, clustering-based subsystems and protein metabolism. CONCLUSIONS:We presented here for the first time the use of the shotgun metagenomic sequencing approach to study the composition and functional structures of the gut microbiota in captive Amur tiger.
Project description:Eight traditional subspecies of tiger (Panthera tigris),of which three recently became extinct, are commonly recognized on the basis of geographic isolation and morphological characteristics. To investigate the species' evolutionary history and to establish objective methods for subspecies recognition, voucher specimens of blood, skin, hair, and/or skin biopsies from 134 tigers with verified geographic origins or heritage across the whole distribution range were examined for three molecular markers: (1) 4.0 kb of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequence; (2) allele variation in the nuclear major histocompatibility complex class II DRB gene; and (3) composite nuclear microsatellite genotypes based on 30 loci. Relatively low genetic variation with mtDNA,DRB,and microsatellite loci was found, but significant population subdivision was nonetheless apparent among five living subspecies. In addition, a distinct partition of the Indochinese subspecies P. t. corbetti in to northern Indochinese and Malayan Peninsula populations was discovered. Population genetic structure would suggest recognition of six taxonomic units or subspecies: (1) Amur tiger P. t. altaica; (2) northern Indochinese tiger P. t. corbetti; (3) South China tiger P. t. amoyensis; (4) Malayan tiger P. t. jacksoni, named for the tiger conservationist Peter Jackson; (5) Sumatran tiger P. t. sumatrae; and (6) Bengal tiger P. t. tigris. The proposed South China tiger lineage is tentative due to limited sampling. The age of the most recent common ancestor for tiger mtDNA was estimated to be 72,000-108,000 y, relatively younger than some other Panthera species. A combination of population expansions, reduced gene flow, and genetic drift following the last genetic diminution, and the recent anthropogenic range contraction, have led to the distinct genetic partitions. These results provide an explicit basis for subspecies recognition and will lead to the improved management and conservation of these recently isolated but distinct geographic populations of tigers.
Project description:The Caspian tiger (Panthera tigris virgata) flourished in Central Asian riverine forest systems in a range disjunct from that of other tigers, but was driven to extinction in 1970 prior to a modern molecular evaluation. For over a century naturalists puzzled over the taxonomic validity, placement, and biogeographic origin of this enigmatic animal. Using ancient-DNA (aDNA) methodology, we generated composite mtDNA haplotypes from twenty wild Caspian tigers from throughout their historic range sampled from museum collections. We found that Caspian tigers carry a major mtDNA haplotype differing by only a single nucleotide from the monomorphic haplotype found across all contemporary Amur tigers (P. t. altaica). Phylogeographic analysis with extant tiger subspecies suggests that less than 10,000 years ago the Caspian/Amur tiger ancestor colonized Central Asia via the Gansu Corridor (Silk Road) from eastern China then subsequently traversed Siberia eastward to establish the Amur tiger in the Russian Far East. The conservation implications of these findings are far reaching, as the observed genetic depletion characteristic of modern Amur tigers likely reflects these founder migrations and therefore predates human influence. Also, due to their evolutionary propinquity, living Amur tigers offer an appropriate genetic source should reintroductions to the former range of the Caspian tiger be implemented.
Project description:Over the past century, the endangered Amur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) has experienced a severe contraction in demography and geographic range because of habitat loss, poaching, and prey depletion. In its historical home in Northeast China, there appears to be a single tiger population that includes tigers in Southwest Primorye and Northeast China; however, the current demographic status of this population is uncertain. Information on the abundance, distribution and genetic diversity of this population for assessing the efficacy of conservation interventions are scarce. We used noninvasive genetic detection data from scats, capture-recapture models and an accumulation curve method to estimate the abundance of Amur tigers in Northeast China. We identified 11 individual tigers (6 females and 5 males) using 10 microsatellite loci in three nature reserves between April 2013 and May 2015. These tigers are confined primarily to a Hunchun Nature Reserve along the border with Russia, with an estimated population abundance of 9-11 tigers during the winter of 2014-2015. They showed a low level of genetic diversity. The mean number of alleles per locus was 2.60 and expected and observed heterozygosity were 0.42 and 0.49, respectively. We also documented long-distance dispersal (~270 km) of a male Amur tiger to Huangnihe Nature Reserve from the border, suggesting that the expansion of neighboring Russian populations may eventually help sustain Chinese populations. However, the small and isolated population recorded by this study demonstrate that there is an urgent need for more intensive regional management to create a tiger-permeable landscape and increased genetic connectivity with other populations.
Project description:UNLABELLED:Fewer than 500 Amur tigers (Panthera tigris altaica) remain in the wild. Due to low numbers and their solitary and reclusive nature, tiger sightings across their range in the Russian Far East and China are rare; sightings of sick tigers are rarer still. Serious neurologic disease observed in several wild tigers since 2001 suggested disease emergence in this endangered species. To investigate this possibility, histology, immunohistochemistry (IHC), in situ hybridization (ISH), and reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR) were performed on tissues from 5 affected tigers that died or were destroyed in 2001, 2004, or 2010. Our results reveal canine distemper virus (CDV) infection as the cause of neurologic disease in two tigers and definitively establish infection in a third. Nonsuppurative encephalitis with demyelination, eosinophilic nuclear viral inclusions, and positive immunolabeling for CDV by IHC and ISH were present in the two tigers with available brain tissue. CDV phosphoprotein (P) and hemagglutinin (H) gene products were obtained from brains of these two tigers by RT-PCR, and a short fragment of CDV P gene sequence was detected in lymph node tissue of a third tiger. Phylogenetically, Amur tiger CDV groups with an Arctic-like strain in Baikal seals (Phoca siberica). Our results, which include mapping the location of positive tigers and recognition of a cluster of cases in 2010, coupled with a lack of reported CDV antibodies in Amur tigers prior to 2000 suggest wide geographic distribution of CDV across the tiger range and recent emergence of CDV as a significant infectious disease threat to endangered Amur tigers in the Russian Far East. IMPORTANCE:Recognition of disease emergence in wildlife is a rare occurrence. Here, for the first time, we identify and characterize a canine distemper virus (CDV), the second most common cause of infectious disease death in domestic dogs and a viral disease of global importance in common and endangered carnivores, as the etiology of neurologic disease and fatal encephalitis in wild, endangered Amur tigers. We establish that in 2010 CDV directly or indirectly killed -1% of Amur tigers. Location of positive cases over an expansive geographic area suggests that CDV is widely distributed across the tiger range. Interspecies interactions are increasing as human populations grow and expand into wildlife habitats. Identifying animal reservoirs for CDV and identifying the CDV strains that are transmissible to and among wildlife species, including Amur tigers and sympatric critically endangered Amur leopards (Panthera pardus orientalis), is essential for guiding conservation and mitigation efforts.
Project description:The analysis of gut microbiota using fecal samples provides a non-invasive approach to understand the complex interactions between host species and their intestinal bacterial community. However, information on gut microbiota for wild endangered carnivores is scarce. The goal of this study was to describe the gut microbiota of two leopard subspecies, the Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) and North Chinese leopard (Panthera pardus japonensis). Fecal samples from the Amur leopard (n = 8) and North Chinese leopard (n = 13) were collected in Northeast Tiger and Leopard National Park and Shanxi Tieqiaoshan Provincial Nature Reserve in China, respectively. The gut microbiota of leopards was analyzed via high-throughput sequencing of the V3-V4 region of bacterial 16S rRNA gene using the Life Ion S5™ XL platform. A total of 1,413,825 clean reads representing 4,203 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) were detected. For Amur leopard samples, Firmicutes (78.4%) was the dominant phylum, followed by Proteobacteria (9.6%) and Actinobacteria (7.6%). And for the North Chinese leopard, Firmicutes (68.6%), Actinobacteria (11.6%) and Fusobacteria (6.4%) were the most predominant phyla. Clostridiales was the most diverse bacterial order with 37.9% for Amur leopard and 45.7% for North Chinese leopard. Based on the beta-diversity analysis, no significant difference was found in the bacterial community composition between the Amur leopard and North Chinese leopard samples. The current study provides the initial data about the composition and structure of the gut microbiota for wild Amur leopards and North Chinese leopards, and has laid the foundation for further investigations of the health, dietary preferences and physiological regulation of leopards.
Project description:Tigers and their close relatives (Panthera) are some of the world's most endangered species. Here we report the de novo assembly of an Amur tiger whole-genome sequence as well as the genomic sequences of a white Bengal tiger, African lion, white African lion and snow leopard. Through comparative genetic analyses of these genomes, we find genetic signatures that may reflect molecular adaptations consistent with the big cats' hypercarnivorous diet and muscle strength. We report a snow leopard-specific genetic determinant in EGLN1 (Met39>Lys39), which is likely to be associated with adaptation to high altitude. We also detect a TYR260G>A mutation likely responsible for the white lion coat colour. Tiger and cat genomes show similar repeat composition and an appreciably conserved synteny. Genomic data from the five big cats provide an invaluable resource for resolving easily identifiable phenotypes evident in very close, but distinct, species.
Project description:Toxascaris leonina is a common parasitic nematode of wild mammals and has significant impacts on the protection of rare wild animals. To analyze population genetic characteristics of T. leonina from South China tiger, its mitochondrial (mt) genome was sequenced. Its complete circular mt genome was 14,277 bp in length, including 12 protein-coding genes, 22 tRNA genes, 2 rRNA genes, and 2 non-coding regions. The nucleotide composition was biased toward A and T. The most common start codon and stop codon were TTG and TAG, and 4 genes ended with an incomplete stop codon. There were 13 intergenic regions ranging 1 to 10 bp in size. Phylogenetically, T. leonina from a South China tiger was close to canine T. leonina. This study reports for the first time a complete mt genome sequence of T. leonina from the South China tiger, and provides a scientific basis for studying the genetic diversity of nematodes between different hosts.
Project description:Amur virus was recently identified as the causative agent of hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome. Here we report the complete genome sequence of an Amur virus isolated from Apodemus peninsulae in Northeastern China. The sequence information provided here is critical for the molecular epidemiology and evolution of Amur virus in China.