Prolonged mating in prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster) increases likelihood of ovulation and embryo number.
Prairie voles are induced ovulators that mate frequently in brief bouts over a period of approximately 24 h. We examined 1) impact of mating duration on ovulation and embryo number, 2) incidence of fertilization, 3) temporal pattern of embryo development, 4) embryo progression through the reproductive tract over time, and 5) embryo development in culture. Mating was videotaped to determine first copulation, and the ovaries were examined and the reproductive tracts flushed at 6, 8, 10, 12, 16, 20, and 24 h and 2, 3, and 4 days after first copulation. The number of mature follicles and fresh corpora lutea and the number and developmental stage of embryos were quantified. One, two-, and four-cell embryos were cultured in Whitten's medium. Mature follicles were present at the earliest time examined (6 h). Thirty-eight percent of females that had been paired for < 12 h after the first copulation ovulated, whereas all females paired >/= 12 h after the first copulation ovulated. Virtually all (> 99%) oocytes recovered from females paired for >/= 12 h after first copulation were fertilized. Pairing time after first copulation and mean copulation-bout duration were significant (p < 0.05) determinants of embryo number. Embryos entered the uterine horns and implanted on Days 3 and 4, respectively, after first copulation (Day 0). Embryos cultured in vitro underwent approximately one cell division per day, a rate similar to that in vivo. We conclude that prairie voles ovulate reliably after pairing for >/= 12 h, although some females showed exceptional sensitivity not predicted by the variables quantified. Prolonged mating for longer than 12 h increased the total embryos produced. This mechanism likely has adaptive significance for increasing offspring number. (+info
A new picornavirus isolated from bank voles (Clethrionomys glareolus).
A previously unknown picornavirus was isolated from bank voles (Clethrionomys glareolus). Electron microscopy images and sequence data of the prototype isolate, named Ljungan virus, showed that it is a picornavirus. The amino acid sequences of predicted Ljungan virus capsid proteins VP2 and VP3 were closely related to the human pathogen echovirus 22 (approximately 70% similarity). A partial 5' noncoding region sequence of Ljungan virus showed the highest degree of relatedness to cardioviruses. Two additional isolates were serologically and molecularly related to the prototype. (+info
Granulated metrial gland cells and interstitial trophoblast in the uterine wall of the bank vole, Clethrionomys glareolus, in early pregnancy.
The morphology and distribution of granulated metrial gland cells and of interstitial trophoblast cells in the uterine wall was studied in the first half of pregnancy in the bank vole, Clethrionomys glareolus. The morphology and distribution of granulated metrial gland cells was generally similar to that found in other members of the Rodentia, although they were absent from the walls of the arterial vessels passing through the decidua basalis. Interstitial trophoblast invaded the decidualising endometrium mesometrial to, and antimesometrial to, the implanted embryos. There was no apparent spatiotemporal relationship between the distribution of granulated metrial gland cells and interstitial trophoblast cells. (+info
Rats of the genus Rattus are reservoir hosts for pathogenic Bartonella species: an Old World origin for a New World disease?
Bartonella species were isolated from the blood of 63 of 325 Rattus norvegicus and 11 of 92 Rattus rattus from 13 sites in the United States and Portugal. Infection in both Rattus species ranged from 0% (e.g., 0/87) to approximately 60% (e.g., 35/62). A 337-bp fragment of the citrate synthase (gltA) gene amplified by polymerase chain reaction was sequenced from all 74 isolates. Isolates from R. norvegicus were most similar to Bartonella elizabethae, isolated previously from a patient with endocarditis (93%-100% sequence similarity), followed by Bartonella grahamii and other Bartonella species isolated from Old World rodents (Clethrionomys species, Mus musculus, and Rattus species). These data suggest that Rattus species are a reservoir host for pathogenic Bartonella species and are consistent with a hypothesized Old World origin for Bartonella species recovered from Rattus species introduced into the Americas. (+info
Isolation and characterization of a hantavirus from Lemmus sibiricus: evidence for host switch during hantavirus evolution.
A novel hantavirus, first detected in Siberian lemmings (Lemmus sibiricus) collected near the Topografov River in the Taymyr Peninsula, Siberia (A. Plyusnin et al., Lancet 347:1835-1836, 1996), was isolated in Vero E6 cells and in laboratory-bred Norwegian lemmings (Lemmus lemmus). The virus, named Topografov virus (TOP), was most closely related to Khabarovsk virus (KBR) and Puumala viruses (PUU). In a cross focus reduction neutralization test, anti-TOP Lemmus antisera showed titers at least fourfold higher with TOP than with other hantaviruses; however, a rabbit anti-KBR antiserum neutralized TOP and KBR at the same titer. The TOP M segment showed 77% nucleotide and 88% amino acid identity with KBR and 76% nucleotide and 82% amino acid identity with PUU. However, the homology between TOP and the KBR S segment was disproportionately higher: 88% at the nucleotide level and 96% at the amino acid level. The 3' noncoding regions of KBR and the TOP S and M segments were alignable except for 113- and 58-nucleotide deletions in KBR. The phylogenetic relationships of TOP, KBR, and PUU and their respective rodent carriers suggest that an exceptional host switch took place during the evolution of these viruses; while TOP and KBR are monophyletic, the respective rodent host species are only distantly related. (+info
Maternal effort and male quality in the bank vole, Clethrionomys glareolus.
Parental investment in reproduction is adjusted according to potential benefits in terms of offspring survival and/or mating success. If male quality affects the reproductive success of a female, then females mating with high-quality males should invest more in reproduction. Although the subject has been of general interest, further experimental verification of the hypothesis is needed. We studied whether female bank voles (Clethrionomys glareolus) adjusted their maternal effort according to male quality, measured as mating success. To enable the measurement of maternal effort during nursing separately from male genetic effects the litters were cross-fostered. Further, the genetic background of male quality was examined. Male quality did not correlate with litter size or offspring size at birth. Offspring growth was positively related to food consumption and milk production of mothers. However, these direct measurements of maternal effort were independent of male quality. Male mating success appeared to be significantly heritable indicating that there are genetic benefits. Still, females did not adjust maternal effort according to the genetic quality of their offspring. We suggest that female bank voles gain significant genetic benefits from mating with high-quality males whereas they cannot improve their reproductive success by increasing maternal effort. (+info
Cowpox: reservoir hosts and geographic range.
It is generally accepted that the reservoir hosts of cowpox virus are wild rodents, although direct evidence for this is lacking for much of the virus's geographic range. Here, through a combination of serology and PCR, we demonstrate conclusively that the main hosts in Great Britain are bank voles, wood mice and short-tailed field voles. However, we also suggest that wood mice may not be able to maintain infection alone, explaining the absence of cowpox from Ireland where voles are generally not found. Infection in wild rodents varies seasonally, and this variation probably underlies the marked seasonal incidence of infection in accidental hosts such as humans and domestic cats. (+info
Potentiation of carbachol-induced amylase release by propionate in guinea pig and vole pancreatic acini.
The action of propionate, one of the major end products of microbial fermentation in herbivores was investigated in isolated, perifused pancreatic acini of guinea pigs, voles, and mice. With the use of guinea pig acini, 100 microM propionate had no effect, whereas 300 and 600 microM increased amylase release by six- and ninefold, respectively. Simultaneous perifusion of carbachol (CCh) 10 microM plus propionate 100 microM in guinea pig acini produced a potentiated secretory response that was 130% higher than the summated value obtained with CCh and propionate alone. The potentiation by propionate (100 microM) of CCh (10 microM)-induced amylase release was also obtained in vole pancreatic acini, but the mouse pancreatic preparation did not exhibit a similar potentiation. In contrast to CCh, propionate (100-600 microM) alone had no significant effect on intracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i) and did not alter [Ca2+]i elicited by CCh. Ca ionophore A23187 (5 microM)-induced amylase release in guinea pig acini was enhanced twofold by the addition of propionate. Cellular cAMP content was increased slightly by propionate, but did not alter dose dependently. The cAMP level with combinations of CCh and propionate was almost same as that with CCh alone and propionate alone. Staurosporine did not modify amylase secretion induced by a combination of CCh and propionate. These results suggest that propionate, in addition to a direct action on amylase release, potentiates CCh-induced amylase release in guinea pig and vole acini via a secretory pathway not associated with an increase in [Ca2+]i and cellular cAMP. (+info