Establishment of epidermal cell lines derived from the skin of the Atlantic bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus).
The Atlantic bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), a marine mammal found off the Atlantic coast, has become the focus of considerable attention because of an increasing number of mortality events witnessed in this species over the last several years along the southeastern United States. Assessment of the impact of environmental stressors on bottlenose dolphins (BND) has been difficult because of the protected status of these marine mammals. The studies presented herein focused on establishing epidermal cell cultures and cell lines as tools for the in vitro evaluation of environmental stressors on BND skin. Epidermal cell cultures were established from skin samples obtained from Atlantic BND and subjected to karyotype analysis. These cultures were further characterized using immunohistochemical methods demonstrating expression of cytokeratins. By two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (2D-PAGE), we observed that the proteomic profile of BND skin tissue samples shared distinct similarities with that of skin-derived cultures. Epidermal cell cultures were transfected with a plasmid encoding the SV40 small t- and large T-antigens, as well as the neomycin-resistance gene. Five neomycin-resistant clones were isolated and expanded, and all of them proliferated at a faster rate than nontransfected BND epidermal cultures, which exhibited signs of senescence. Cell lysates prepared from two transfected clones were shown to express, by Western blot analysis, both SV40 tumor antigens. These experimental results are consistent with the concept that transfected clones expressing SV40 tumor antigens represent immortalized BND cell lines. Epidermal cell lines derived from Tursiops truncatus will provide a unique tool for studying key features of the interaction occurring between dolphins and the environment in which they live at their most crucial interface: the skin. (+info)
Fatal necrotizing fasciitis and myositis in a captive common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) associated with Streptococcus agalactiae.
A common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) was presented for necropsy after acute onset of gastrointestinal signs and cutaneous lesions that rapidly progressed to death. Gross and microscopic findings were characterized by locally extensive severe necrohemorrhagic fasciitis and cellulitis, and severe necrotizing myositis in the head and dorsocranial thorax, with numerous disseminated gram-positive cocci. Streptococcus agalactiae was isolated from the lesions and from visceral organs (liver and lung), and it was identified by standard microbiology techniques. This communication is the first report of necrotizing fasciitis in a marine mammal associated with S. agalactiae. (+info)
Signature whistle shape conveys identity information to bottlenose dolphins.
Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) develop individually distinctive signature whistles that they use to maintain group cohesion. Unlike the development of identification signals in most other species, signature whistle development is strongly influenced by vocal learning. This learning ability is maintained throughout life, and dolphins frequently copy each other's whistles in the wild. It has been hypothesized that signature whistles can be used as referential signals among conspecifics, because captive bottlenose dolphins can be trained to use novel, learned signals to label objects. For this labeling to occur, signature whistles would have to convey identity information independent of the caller's voice features. However, experimental proof for this hypothesis has been lacking. This study demonstrates that bottlenose dolphins extract identity information from signature whistles even after all voice features have been removed from the signal. Thus, dolphins are the only animals other than humans that have been shown to transmit identity information independent of the caller's voice or location. (+info)
Individual-based model framework to assess population consequences of polychlorinated biphenyl exposure in bottlenose dolphins.
Marine mammals are susceptible to the effects of anthropogenic contaminants. Here we examine the effect of different polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) accumulation scenarios on potential population growth rates using, as an example, data obtained for the population of bottlenose dolphins from Sarasota Bay, Florida. To achieve this goal, we developed an individual-based model framework that simulates the accumulation of PCBs in the population and modifies first-year calf survival based on maternal blubber PCB levels. In our example the current estimated annual PCB accumulation rate for the Sarasota Bay dolphin population might be depressing the potential population growth rate. However, our predictions are limited both by model naivety and parameter uncertainty. We emphasize the need for more data collection on the relationship between maternal blubber PCB levels and calf survivorship, the annual accumulation of PCBs in the blubber of females, and the transfer of PCBs to the calf through the placenta and during lactation. Such data require continued efforts directed toward long-term studies of known individuals in wild and semiwild populations. (+info)
Functional imaging of dolphin brain metabolism and blood flow.
This report documents the first use of magnetic resonance images (MRIs) of living dolphins to register functional brain scans, allowing for the exploration of potential mechanisms of unihemispheric sleep. Diazepam has been shown to induce unihemispheric slow waves (USW), therefore we used functional imaging of dolphins with and without diazepam to observe hemispheric differences in brain metabolism and blood flow. MRIs were used to register functional brain scans with single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and positron emission tomography (PET) in trained dolphins. Scans using SPECT revealed unihemispheric blood flow reduction following diazepam doses greater than 0.55 mg kg(-1) for these 180-200 kg animals. Scans using PET revealed hemispheric differences in brain glucose consumption when scans with and without diazepam were compared. The findings suggest that unihemispheric reduction in blood flow and glucose metabolism in the hemisphere showing USW are important features of unihemispheric sleep. Functional scans may also help to elucidate the degree of hemispheric laterality of sensory and motor systems as well as in neurotransmitter or molecular mechanisms of unihemispheric sleep in delphinoid cetaceans. The findings also demonstrate the potential value of functional scans to explore other aspects of dolphin brain physiology as well as pathology. (+info)
Dolphin continuous auditory vigilance for five days.
The present report describes the first study of continuous vigilance in dolphins. Two adult bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), WEN (male) and SAY (female), maintained a very high detection rate of randomly presented, infrequent, 1.5-s target tones in a background of frequent 0.5-s equal-amplitude tones over five continuous 120-h sessions. The animals were able to maintain high levels (WEN 97, 87, 99%; SAY 93, 96%) of target detection without signs of sleep deprivation as indicated by behavior, blood indices or marked sleep rebound during 24 h of continuous post-experiment observation. Target response time overall (F = 0.384; P = 0.816) did not change between day 1 and day 5. However, response time was significantly slower (F = 21.566, P = 0.019) during the night (21.00-04.00 h) when the dolphins would have ordinarily been resting or asleep. (+info)
Characterization of a Brucella sp. strain as a marine-mammal type despite isolation from a patient with spinal osteomyelitis in New Zealand.
Naturally acquired infection of humans with a marine mammal-associated Brucella sp. has only been reported once previously in a study describing infections of two patients from Peru. We report the isolation and characterization of a strain of Brucella from a New Zealand patient that appears most closely related to strains previously identified from marine mammals. The isolate was preliminarily identified as Brucella suis using conventional bacteriological tests in our laboratory. However, the results profile was not an exact match, and the isolate was forwarded to four international reference laboratories for further identification. The reference laboratories identified the isolate as either B. suis or B. melitensis by traditional bacteriological methods in three laboratories and by a molecular test in the fourth laboratory. Molecular characterization by PCR, PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism, and DNA sequencing of the bp26 gene; IS711; the omp genes omp25, omp31, omp2a, and omp2b; IRS-PCR fragments I, III, and IV; and five housekeeping gene fragments was conducted to resolve the discrepant identification of the isolate. The isolate was identified to be closely related to a Brucella sp. originating from a United States bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) and common seals (Phoca vitulina). (+info)
Isolation and characterization of the first American bottlenose dolphin papillomavirus: Tursiops truncatus papillomavirus type 2.
A novel papillomavirus (PV) was isolated from a genital condyloma of a free-ranging bottlenose dolphin inhabiting the coastal waters of Charleston Harbor, SC, USA: Tursiops truncatus papillomavirus type 2 (TtPV2). This novel virus represents the first isolated North American cetacean PV and the first American bottlenose dolphin PV. After the viral genome was cloned, sequenced and characterized genetically, phylogenetic analyses revealed that TtPV2 is most similar to the only published cetacean PV isolated and characterized thus far, Phocoena spinipinnis PV type 1 (PsPV1). A striking feature of the genome of TtPV2, as well as that of PsPV1, is the lack of an E7 open reading frame, which typically encodes one of the oncogenic proteins believed to be responsible for malignant transformation in the high-risk mucosotropic human papillomaviruses (HPVs). TtPV2 E6 contains a PDZ-binding motif that has been shown to be involved in transformation in the case of high-risk genital HPVs. (+info)