(1/27) Genomic relatedness of Chlamydia isolates determined by amplified fragment length polymorphism analysis.

The genomic relatedness of 19 Chlamydia pneumoniae isolates (17 from respiratory origin and 2 from atherosclerotic origin), 21 Chlamydia trachomatis isolates (all serovars from the human biovar, an isolate from the mouse biovar, and a porcine isolate), 6 Chlamydia psittaci isolates (5 avian isolates and 1 feline isolate), and 1 Chlamydia pecorum isolate was studied by analyzing genomic amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) fingerprints. The AFLP procedure was adapted from a previously developed method for characterization of clinical C. trachomatis isolates. The fingerprints of all C. pneumoniae isolates were nearly identical, clustering together at a Dice similarity of 92.6% (+/- 1.6% standard deviation). The fingerprints of the C. trachomatis isolates of human, mouse, and swine origin were clearly distinct from each other. The fingerprints of the isolates from the human biovar could be divided into at least 12 different types when the presence or absence of specific bands was taken into account. The C. psittaci fingerprints could be divided into a parakeet, a pigeon, and a feline type. The fingerprint of C. pecorum was clearly distinct from all others. Cluster analysis of selected isolates from all species revealed groups other than those based on sequence data from single genes (in particular, omp1 and rRNA genes) but was in agreement with available DNA-DNA hybridization data. In conclusion, cluster analysis of AFLP fingerprints of representatives of all species provided suggestions for a grouping of chlamydiae based on the analysis of the whole genome. Furthermore, genomic AFLP analysis showed that the genome of C. pneumoniae is highly conserved and that no differences exist between isolates of respiratory and atherosclerotic origins.  (+info)

(2/27) Molecular mapping of brain areas involved in parrot vocal communication.

Auditory and vocal regulation of gene expression occurs in separate discrete regions of the songbird brain. Here we demonstrate that regulated gene expression also occurs during vocal communication in a parrot, belonging to an order whose ability to learn vocalizations is thought to have evolved independently of songbirds. Adult male budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus) were stimulated to vocalize with playbacks of conspecific vocalizations (warbles), and their brains were analyzed for expression of the transcriptional regulator ZENK. The results showed that there was distinct separation of brain areas that had hearing- or vocalizing-induced ZENK expression. Hearing warbles resulted in ZENK induction in large parts of the caudal medial forebrain and in 1 midbrain region, with a pattern highly reminiscent of that observed in songbirds. Vocalizing resulted in ZENK induction in nine brain structures, seven restricted to the lateral and anterior telencephalon, one in the thalamus, and one in the midbrain, with a pattern partially reminiscent of that observed in songbirds. Five of the telencephalic structures had been previously described as part of the budgerigar vocal control pathway. However, functional boundaries defined by the gene expression patterns for some of these structures were much larger and different in shape than previously reported anatomical boundaries. Our results provide the first functional demonstration of brain areas involved in vocalizing and auditory processing of conspecific sounds in budgerigars. They also indicate that, whether or not vocal learning evolved independently, some of the gene regulatory mechanisms that accompany learned vocal communication are similar in songbirds and parrots.  (+info)

(3/27) Imported parakeets harbor H9N2 influenza A viruses that are genetically closely related to those transmitted to humans in Hong Kong.

In 1997 and 1998, H9N2 influenza A viruses were isolated from the respiratory organs of Indian ring-necked parakeets (Psittacula Krameri manillensis) that had been imported from Pakistan to Japan. The two isolates were closely related to each other (>99% as determined by nucleotide analysis of eight RNA segments), indicating that H9N2 viruses of the same lineage were maintained in these birds for at least 1 year. The hemagglutinins and neuraminidases of both isolates showed >97% nucleotide identity with those of H9N2 viruses isolated from humans in Hong Kong in 1999, while the six genes encoding internal proteins were >99% identical to the corresponding genes of H5N1 viruses recovered during the 1997 outbreak in Hong Kong. These results suggest that the H9N2 parakeet viruses originating in Pakistan share an immediate ancestor with the H9N2 human viruses. Thus, influenza A viruses with the potential to be transmitted directly to humans may be circulating in captive birds worldwide.  (+info)

(4/27) A reliable assessment of 8-oxo-2-deoxyguanosine levels in nuclear and mitochondrial DNA using the sodium iodide method to isolate DNA.

A major controversy in the area of DNA biochemistry concerns the actual in vivo levels of oxidative damage in DNA. We show here that 8-oxo-2-deoxyguanosine (oxo8dG) generation during DNA isolation is eliminated using the sodium iodide (NaI) isolation method and that the level of oxo8dG in nuclear DNA (nDNA) is almost one-hundredth of the level obtained using the classical phenol method. We found using NaI that the ratio of oxo8dG/10(5 )deoxyguanosine (dG) in nDNA isolated from mouse tissues ranged from 0.032 +/- 0.002 for liver to 0.015 +/- 0.003 for brain. We observed a significant increase (10-fold) in oxo8dG in nDNA isolated from liver tissue after 2 Gy of gamma-irradiation when NaI was used to isolate DNA. The turnover of oxo8dG in nDNA was rapid, e.g. disappearance of oxo8dG in the mouse liver in vivo after gamma-irradiation had a half-life of 11 min. The levels of oxo8dG in mitochondrial DNA isolated from liver, heart and brain were 6-, 16- and 23-fold higher than nDNA from these tissues. Thus, our results showed that the steady-state levels of oxo8dG in mouse tissues range from 180 to 360 lesions in the nuclear genome and from one to two lesions in 100 mitochondrial genomes.  (+info)

(5/27) Induction of blindness by formoguanamine hydrochloride in adult male roseringed parakeets (Psittacula krameri).

Formoguanamine (2,4-diamino-s-triazine) was known to be an effective chemical agent in inducing blindness in poultry chicks, but not in adult birds. The present study was undertaken to demonstrate the influences, if any, of this chemical on the visual performance and retinal histology in an adult sub-tropical wild bird the roseringed parakeet (Psittacula krameri). Formoguanamine (FG) hydrochloride was subcutaneously injected into adult parakeets at the dosage of 25 mg (dissolved in 0.75 ml physiological saline)/100 g body weight/day, for two consecutive days while the control birds were injected only with the placebo. The effects were studied after 10, 20, and 30 days of the last treatment of FG. Within 24 h of the treatment of FG, about 90% of the total birds exhibited lack of visual responses to any light stimulus and even absence of pupillary light reactions. The remaining birds became totally blind on the day following the last injection of FG and remained so till the end of investigation. At the microscopic level, conspicuous degenerative changes were noted in the outer pigmented epithelium and the photoreceptive layer of rods and cones in the retinas of FG treated birds. A significant reduction in the thickness of the outer nuclear layer was also found in the retinas of FG treated parakeets, compared to that in the control birds. However, the inner cell layers of the retina in the control and FG administered parakeets were almost identical. It deserves special mention that the effects of FG, noted after 30 days of last treatment, were not very different from those noted just after 10 days of treatment. Collectively, the results of the present investigation demonstrate that FG can be used as a potent pharmacological agent for inducing irreversible blindness through selective damage in retinal tissue even in the adult wild bird, thereby making FG treatment an alternative euthanasic device to a cumbersome, stressful, surgical method of enucleation of the ocular system for laboratory studies.  (+info)

(6/27) Vocal-tract filtering by lingual articulation in a parrot.

Human speech and bird vocalization are complex communicative behaviors with notable similarities in development and underlying mechanisms. However, there is an important difference between humans and birds in the way vocal complexity is generally produced. Human speech originates from independent modulatory actions of a sound source, e.g., the vibrating vocal folds, and an acoustic filter, formed by the resonances of the vocal tract (formants). Modulation in bird vocalization, in contrast, is thought to originate predominantly from the sound source, whereas the role of the resonance filter is only subsidiary in emphasizing the complex time-frequency patterns of the source (e.g., but see ). However, it has been suggested that, analogous to human speech production, tongue movements observed in parrot vocalizations modulate formant characteristics independently from the vocal source. As yet, direct evidence of such a causal relationship is lacking. In five Monk parakeets, Myiopsitta monachus, we replaced the vocal source, the syrinx, with a small speaker that generated a broad-band sound, and we measured the effects of tongue placement on the sound emitted from the beak. The results show that tongue movements cause significant frequency changes in two formants and cause amplitude changes in all four formants present between 0.5 and 10 kHz. We suggest that lingual articulation may thus in part explain the well-known ability of parrots to mimic human speech, and, even more intriguingly, may also underlie a speech-like formant system in natural parrot vocalizations.  (+info)

(7/27) Flowers, fruits, and the abundance of the yellow-chevroned parakeet (Brotogeris chiriri) at a gallery forest in the South Pantanal (Brazil).

Parakeets usually forage for massive and ephemeral plant resources at forest canopies. Fruit pulp is widely cited as a major food resource for these birds, which often eat seeds and nectar. In this study, I assessed flower and fruit production at a gallery forest in the Pantanal flood plain (Brazil) in order to evaluate the relationship between food resource production and abundance of a common parakeet, Brotogeris chiriri. Also, I evaluated the relationship between food resource production and foraging activity. Parakeet abundance varied markedly along the year, coinciding with massive episodes of flower and fleshy fruit availability. Inga vera nectar, intensely used during the latter part of dry season, was by far the most exploited food item by parakeets when they were very abundant. The nectar comprised 34% of the parakeets' diet (N = 131 feeding records) at the gallery forest, while fleshy fruits made up the rest. Parakeets principally exploited fruits of Cecropia pachystachya and Ficus luschnathiana, besides palm fruits and Inga vera arils. The consistent relationship between foraging activity and parakeet abundance, as well as the coincidence between fluctuations of these parameters and availability of major food resources, suggests that food availability mostly influenced B. chiriri occurrence in the gallery forest. Furthermore, I found no evidence for gallery forest use for roosting and/or breeding, in spite of the fact that such factors usually influence local parakeet abundance.  (+info)

(8/27) Extensive consumption of Tabebuia aurea (Manso) Benth. & Hook. (Bignoniaceae) nectar by parrots in a Tecoma savanna in the southern Pantanal (Brazil).

Neotropical parrots forage for various food items such as seeds, fruit pulp, flowers, young leaves, and even arthropods. While foraging, many species wander over large areas that include both open and closed habitats. In this study, I examined parrot foraging activity during a brief synchronous and massive flowering in August 1998 in a tecoma savanna (dominated by Tabebuia aurea) in the southern Pantanal. Six parrot species, ranging from the small Brotogeris chiriri to the large Amazona aestiva, foraged for T. aurea nectar, but Nandayus nenday was by far the major nectar consumer, and the results of each of their visits, like those of the other species, was damage of a substantial proportion of the existing flower crop. Parrots foraged mostly during the afternoon, when nectar concentration tended to be higher. Nevertheless, compared to bird-pollinated flowers, which produce copious nectar, T. aurea had a smaller mean nectar volume per flower. Hence, presumably the amount of damage wreaked by these parrots resulted from their efforts to obtain part of their daily energy and water requirements. Thus, the synchronous and massive flowering occurring in such a brief period in the dry season may be related to, among other factors, the necessity of satiating predators such as parrots, which are still abundant in the Pantanal.  (+info)