Genetic analysis of leishmania parasites in Ecuador: are Leishmania (Viannia) panamensis and Leishmania (V.) Guyanensis distinct taxa?
In the course of an epidemiologic survey in Ecuador, the following collection of Leishmania stocks was isolated: 28 from patients with clinical signs of leishmaniasis, 2 from sloths, 1 from a dog, and 4 from sand flies. For genetic characterization of these stocks, multilocus enzyme electrophoresis (MLEE) and random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) were used. Twenty six of the 35 stocks were identified as either Leishmania (V.) panamensis or L. (V.) guyanensis, 2 stocks were identified as L. (V.) braziliensis, the 2 stocks from sloths showed specific genotypes, and 5 stocks were characterized as hybrids between L. (V.) braziliensis and L. (V.) guyanensis. These data show that genetic diversity of Leishmania in Ecuador is high and that L. (V.) panamensis/guyanensis is the dominant group in this country. The genetic analysis questioned the distinctness between the two species L.(V.) panamensis and L. (V.) guyanensis, since MLEE and RAPD data did not indicate that L. (V.) panamensis and L. (V.) guyanensis correspond to distinct monophyletic lines. Population genetic analysis performed on the L. (V.) panamensis/guyanensis group favors the hypothesis of a basically clonal population structure. (+info
An update on the physiology of two- and three-toed sloths.
Physiological and pharmacological research undertaken on sloths during the past 30 years is comprehensively reviewed. This includes the numerous studies carried out upon the respiratory and cardiovascular systems, anesthesia, blood chemistry, neuromuscular responses, the brain and spinal cord, vision, sleeping and waking, water balance and kidney function and reproduction. Similarities and differences between the physiology of sloths and that of other mammals are discussed in detail. (+info
Sloth biology: an update on their physiological ecology, behavior and role as vectors of arthropods and arboviruses.
This is a review of the research undertaken since 1971 on the behavior and physiological ecology of sloths. The animals exhibit numerous fascinating features. Sloth hair is extremely specialized for a wet tropical environment and contains symbiotic algae. Activity shows circadian and seasonal variation. Nutrients derived from the food, particularly in Bradypus, only barely match the requirements for energy expenditure. Sloths are hosts to a fascinating array of commensal and parasitic arthropods and are carriers of various arthropod-borne viruses. Sloths are known reservoirs of the flagellate protozoan which causes leishmaniasis in humans, and may also carry trypanosomes and the protozoan Pneumocystis carinii. (+info
The effect of feeding on the respiratory activity of the sloth.
The aim of the present study was to confirm whether feeding influences the resting breathing rate and to observe possible alterations in blood gas and pH levels produced by feeding in unanesthetized sloths (Bradypus variegatus). Five adult male sloths (4.1 +/- 0.6 kg) were placed daily in an experimental chair for a period of at least 4 h for sitting adaptation. Five measurements were made for each sloth. However, the sloths one, two and five were studied once and the sloths three and four were studied twice. Breathing rate was determined with an impedance meter and the output signal was digitized. Arterial blood samples were collected for blood gas analysis with a BGE electrolytes analyzer and adjusted for the animal's body temperature and hemoglobin content. The data are reported as mean +/- SD and were collected during the resting period (8:00-10:00 h) and during the feeding period (16:00-18:00 h). The mean breathing rate increased during mastication of ymbahuba leaves (rest: 5.0 +/- 1, feeding: 10 +/- 1 bpm). No significant alterations were observed in arterial pH (rest: 7.42 +/- 0.05, feeding: 7.45 +/- 0.03), PCO2 (rest: 35.2 +/- 5.3, feeding: 33.3 +/- 4.4 mmHg) or PO2 (rest: 77.5 +/- 8.2, feeding: 78.4 +/- 5.2 mmHg) levels. These results indicate that in unanesthetized sloths 1) feeding evokes an increase in breathing rate without a significant change in arterial pH, PCO2 or PO2 levels, and 2) the increase in breathing rate produced by feeding probably is due to the act of mastication. (+info
Molecular phylogeny of living xenarthrans and the impact of character and taxon sampling on the placental tree rooting.
Extant xenarthrans (armadillos, anteaters and sloths) are among the most derived placental mammals ever evolved. South America was the cradle of their evolutionary history. During the Tertiary, xenarthrans experienced an extraordinary radiation, whereas South America remained isolated from other continents. The 13 living genera are relics of this earlier diversification and represent one of the four major clades of placental mammals. Sequences of the three independent protein-coding nuclear markers alpha2B adrenergic receptor (ADRA2B), breast cancer susceptibility (BRCA1), and von Willebrand Factor (VWF) were determined for 12 of the 13 living xenarthran genera. Comparative evolutionary dynamics of these nuclear exons using a likelihood framework revealed contrasting patterns of molecular evolution. All codon positions of BRCA1 were shown to evolve in a strikingly similar manner, and third codon positions appeared less saturated within placentals than those of ADRA2B and VWF. Maximum likelihood and Bayesian phylogenetic analyses of a 47 placental taxa data set rooted by three marsupial outgroups resolved the phylogeny of Xenarthra with some evidence for two radiation events in armadillos and provided a strongly supported picture of placental interordinal relationships. This topology was fully compatible with recent studies, dividing placentals into the Southern Hemisphere clades Afrotheria and Xenarthra and a monophyletic Northern Hemisphere clade (Boreoeutheria) composed of Laurasiatheria and Euarchontoglires. Partitioned likelihood statistical tests of the position of the root, under different character partition schemes, identified three almost equally likely hypotheses for early placental divergences: a basal Afrotheria, an Afrotheria + Xenarthra clade, or a basal Xenarthra (Epitheria hypothesis). We took advantage of the extensive sampling realized within Xenarthra to assess its impact on the location of the root on the placental tree. By resampling taxa within Xenarthra, the conservative Shimodaira-Hasegawa likelihood-based test of alternative topologies was shown to be sensitive to both character and taxon sampling. (+info
Social behavior between mothers x young of sloths Bradypus variegatus Schinz, 1825 (Xenarthra: Bradypodidae).
This study is a contribution to the ex situ and in situ conservation and preservation of Sloths. The behavioral records of the social interaction between mothers and offspring allow the detection of important learning interactions and psychomotor development. The results provide valuable information that may assist in improving management conditions of captive orphan progeny. They also favor a more effective monitoring of released or transferred specimens. Age is of fundamental importance in deciding what is important during the release, transfer, or reintroduction of the species. (+info
Genetic diversity in different populations of sloths assessed by DNA fingerprinting.
In this study we analyzed a population of Bradypus torquatus with individuals originally distributed in different localities of Bahia, and two populations of B. variegatus with individuals from Bahia and Sao Paulo States. Using the DNA fingerprinting method, we assessed the genetic variability within and between populations. Analysis of the DNA profiles revealed genetic similarity indices ranging from 0.34 +/- 0.07 to 0.87 +/- 0.04. Similar low levels of genetic variability were found only in isolated mammalian populations or among related individuals. This study presents the first analyses of genetic diversity in sloth populations. (+info
Brazilian distribution of Amblyomma varium Koch, 1844 (Acari: Ixodidae), a common parasite of sloths (Mammalia: Xenarthra).
Amblyomma varium, commonly known in Brazil as the "carrapato-gigante-da-pregui a" (sloth's giant tick) is found from southern Central America to Argentina. The present study adds information on the geographical distribution of A. varium, as well as on their hosts, based on material deposited in the main Brazilian collections and on the available literature. Eighty-two vials, containing 191 adult specimens, deposited in five Acari collections between 1930 and 2001, were examined. These vials included data on the host and collection localities. The biology of A. varium is unknown. However it is known that, during the adult stage, the tick presents a high host specificity and is found almost exclusively on the sloths Bradypus tridactylus, B. variegatus, B.torquatus (Bradypodidae), Choloepus hoffmanni and C. didactylus (Megalonychidae). Based on the material examined, the states of Rond nia, Amazonas, Bahia and Alagoas are newly assigned to geographic distribution of A. varium in Brazil. (+info