Soaring and non-soaring bats of the family pteropodidae (flying foxes, Pteropus spp.): wing morphology and flight performance. (1/41)

On oceanic islands, some large diurnal megachiropteran bat species (flying foxes; Pteropus spp.) frequently use thermal or slope soaring during foraging flights to save energy. We compared the flight morphology and gliding/soaring performance of soaring versus non-soaring Pteropus species, one pair on American Samoa and one pair on the Comoro Islands, and two other soaring/flap-gliding species and one non-soaring species. We predicted that the soaring species should have a lower body mass, longer wings and, hence, lower wing loadings than those species that use mainly flapping flight. This would give a lower sinking speed during gliding, a higher glide ratio, and enable the bats to make tighter turns with lower sinking speeds than in the non-soaring species. We theoretically calculated the gliding and circling performances of both the soaring and non-soaring species. Our results show that there are tendencies towards longer wings and lower wing loadings in relation to body size in the gliding/soaring flying foxes than in the non-soaring ones. In the species-pair comparison of the soaring and non-soaring species on American Samoa and the Comoro Islands, the soarers on both islands turn out to have lower wing loadings than their non-soaring partners in spite of opposite size differences among the pairs. These characteristics are in accordance with our hypothesis on morphological adaptations. Most differences are, however, only significant at a level of P<0.1, which may be due to the small sample size, but overlap also occurs. Therefore, we must conclude that wing morphology does not seem to be a limiting factor preventing the non-soarers from soaring. Instead, diurnality in the soaring species seems to be the ultimate determinant of soaring behaviour. The morphological differences cause visible differences in soaring and gliding performance. The glider/soarers turn out to have lower minimum sinking speeds, lower best glide speeds and smaller turning radii than the non-soarers. When the wing measurements and soaring performance are normalized to a body mass of 0.5 kg for all species, the minimum sinking speed becomes significantly lower (P<0.05) in the three soaring and the one flap-gliding species (0.63 m s(-)(1)) than in the three non-soaring species (0.69 m s(-)(1)). Interestingly, the zones in the diagrams for the glide polars and circling envelopes of these similar-sized bats become displaced for the glider/soarers versus the non-soarers. The glide polars overlap slightly only at the gliding speeds appropriate for these bats, whereas the circling envelopes do not overlap at the appropriate bank angles and turning radii. This points towards adaptations for better gliding/soaring performance in the soaring and gliding species.  (+info)

Multiple overseas dispersal in amphibians. (2/41)

Amphibians are thought to be unable to disperse over ocean barriers because they do not tolerate the osmotic stress of salt water. Their distribution patterns have therefore generally been explained by vicariance biogeography. Here, we present compelling evidence for overseas dispersal of frogs in the Indian Ocean region based on the discovery of two endemic species on Mayotte. This island belongs to the Comoro archipelago, which is entirely volcanic and surrounded by sea depths of more than 3500 m. This constitutes the first observation of endemic amphibians on oceanic islands that did not have any past physical contact to other land masses. The two species of frogs had previously been thought to be nonendemic and introduced from Madagascar, but clearly represent new species based on their morphological and genetic differentiation. They belong to the genera Mantidactylus and Boophis in the family Mantellidae that is otherwise restricted to Madagascar, and are distinguished by morphology and mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequences from mantellid species occurring in Madagascar. This discovery permits us to update and test molecular clocks for frogs distributed in this region. The new calibrations are in agreement with previous rate estimates and indicate two further Cenozoic transmarine dispersal events that had previously been interpreted as vicariance: hyperoliid frogs from Africa to Madagascar (Heterixalus) and from Madagascar to the Seychelles islands (Tachycnemis). Our results provide the strongest evidence so far that overseas dispersal of amphibians exists and is no rare exception, although vicariance certainly retains much of its importance in explaining amphibian biogeography.  (+info)

Susceptibility of Plasmodium falciparum to the drugs used to treat severe malaria (quinine) and to prevent malaria (mefloquine, cycloguanil) in Comoros Union and Madagascar. (3/41)

OBJECTIVES: To monitor the sensitivity of Plasmodium falciparum to the drugs used to treat severe malaria and to prevent malaria in Comoros and Madagascar. DESIGN: We used the in vitro isotopic method to test the sensitivity of P. falciparum to quinine, mefloquine and cycloguanil. RESULTS: We tested fresh isolates of P. falciparum, collected from patients living in urban, suburban and rural areas and suffering from uncomplicated malaria in 2001, against at least one of the antimalarials cited above. In both countries all of the successfully tested isolates were sensitive to quinine (N = 243) and to cycloguanil (N = 67). The mean IC50 ranged from 85.7 to 133.7 nM for quinine. For cycloguanil, the mean IC50 ranged from 1.4 to 20.2 nM and the highest IC50 value (102.5 nM) was recorded in Comoros. Only 0.9% (1/110) of the informative isolates from Madagascar were mefloquine-resistant (0/18 in Comoros). The mefloquine mean IC50s were 8.2 nM, 14.1 nM and 11.6 nM respectively in the rural, suburban and urban areas of Madagascar, and 5.9 nM in Comoros. A positive correlation was found between quinine and mefloquine IC50s (N = 127, r = 0.48, p < 10(-6)), but in vitro mefloquine was 6-16 times more potent than quinine. No correlation was noticed between the activities of quinine and cycloguanil or between the activities of mefloquine and cycloguanil. CONCLUSION: We therefore advocate the use of a full-course regimen of quinine, as recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO), to treat above all severe malaria in Madagascar and Comoros. Our results also demonstrate that the use of mefloquine- and cycloguanil-based antimalarials is still justified to prevent malaria in both countries, mainly in the case of travellers.  (+info)

Short report: High prevalence of multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria in the French territory of Mayotte. (4/41)

A drug-resistance survey was conducted in the French territory of Mayotte in the Comorian Islands in the Indian Ocean where malaria is endemic. A high prevalence of resistant Plasmodium falciparum parasites was observed, not only to chloroquine (88%) and pyrimethamine (99%), but more surprisingly to quinine (17%), mefloquine (9%), and amodiaquine (24%). This leaves few treatment alternatives other than artemisine-mefloquine combinations. However, despite notification to French Health authorities three years ago, inadequate treatment (chloroquine plus sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine) is still used in this locality. Thus, people still die of malaria in this remote territory of France.  (+info)

Seroprevalence of Chikungunya virus infection on Grande Comore Island, union of the Comoros, 2005. (5/41)

An outbreak of Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) illness associated with high fever combined with prolonged and severe arthralgias occurred on Grande Comore Island from January through May 2005; 5,202 cases were reported. A seroprevalence study was conducted to define the extent of transmission on the island. We conducted a cross-sectional survey using a multistage sampling technique. A total of 481 households were sampled. In each household, one resident was selected randomly for interview and blood collection. We administered questionnaires and tested 331 sera for CHIKV-specific IgM and IgG antibodies by capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Infection with CHIKV infection (seropositivity) was defined as presence of IgG and/or IgM antibodies to CHIKV. A total of 331 (69%) of 481 survey participants consented to blood collection. Antibodies to CHIKV were detected in 63% of sera; IgM antibodies were found in 60% of specimens and IgG antibodies were detected in 27% of specimens. Extrapolation of the findings to the entire Grande Comore population suggested that nearly 215,000 people were infected with CHIKV during the outbreak. A total of 79% of the seropositive persons were hospitalized or stayed at home in bed for a mean of 6 days (range = 1-30 days); 52% missed work or school for a mean of 7 days (range = 1-40 days). The findings suggest that CHIKV was broadly transmitted during the outbreak with a high attack rate. Although not fatal during this outbreak, CHIKV infection caused significant morbidity and decreased economic productivity.  (+info)

Antimalarial drug susceptibility and point mutations associated with drug resistance in 248 Plasmodium falciparum isolates imported from Comoros to Marseille, France in 2004 2006. (6/41)

A total of 248 Plasmodium falciparum isolates were sampled in travelers with malaria who came to Marseille, France from Comoros to investigate in vitro activities of antimalarial drugs and molecular markers of drug resistance. Of the 248 isolates, 126 were maintained in culture. Of these, 53% were resistant to chloroquine, and 3% had reduced susceptibility to quinine, mefloquine, and atovaquone; 1% had reduced susceptibility to halofantrine and dihydroartemisinin; 7% had reduced susceptibility to monodesethylamodiaquine; 37% had reduced susceptibility to cycloguanil; and none had reduced susceptibility to lumefantrine. Resistance-associated point mutations were screened in 207 isolates. No mutations in the cytochrome b gene were found. Of the 207 isolates, 119 (58%) had a mutation in the P. falciparum dihydrofolate reductase (Pfdhfr) gene at codon 108, 6 (5%) had mutations in both Pfdhfr codon 108 and the P. falciparum dihydropteroate synthase codon 437, and 115 (56%) had the chloroquine resistance-associated K76T mutation in the P. falciparum chloroquine resistance transporter gene. This study represents a unique opportunity to improve surveillance of P. falciparum drug resistance in Comoros with consequences for treatment and chemoprophylaxis guidelines.  (+info)

Entomologic investigations of a chikungunya virus epidemic in the Union of the Comoros, 2005. (7/41)

From January to April 2005, an epidemic of chikungunya virus (CHIKV) illness occurred in the Union of Comoros. Entomological studies were undertaken during the peak of the outbreak, from March 11 to March 31, aimed at identifying the primary vector(s) involved in transmission so that appropriate public health measures could be implemented. Adult mosquitoes were collected by backpack aspiration and human landing collection in homes and neighborhoods of clinically ill patients. Water-holding containers were inspected for presence of mosquito larvae. Adult mosquitoes were analyzed by RT-PCR and cultivation in cells for the presence of CHIK virus and/or nucleic acid. A total of 2,326 mosquitoes were collected and processed in 199 pools. The collection consisted of 62.8% Aedes aegypti, 25.5% Culex species, and 10.7% Aedes simpsoni complex, Eretmapodites spp and Anopheles spp. Seven mosquito pools were found to be positive for CHIKV RNA and 1 isolate was obtained. The single CHIKV mosquito isolate was from a pool of Aedes aegypti and the minimum infection rate (MIR) for this species was 4.0, suggesting that Ae. aegypti was the principal vector responsible for the outbreak. This was supported by high container (31.1%), household (68%), and Breteau (126) indices, with discarded tires (58.8%) and small cooking and water storage vessels (31.1%) registering the highest container indices.  (+info)

Drug-resistant malaria parasites introduced into Madagascar from Comoros Islands. (8/41)