Novel endotheliotropic herpesviruses fatal for Asian and African elephants.
A highly fatal hemorrhagic disease has been identified in 10 young Asian and African elephants at North American zoos. In the affected animals there was ultrastructural evidence for herpesvirus-like particles in endothelial cells of the heart, liver, and tongue. Consensus primer polymerase chain reaction combined with sequencing yielded molecular evidence that confirmed the presence of two novel but related herpesviruses associated with the disease, one in Asian elephants and another in African elephants. Otherwise healthy African elephants with external herpetic lesions yielded herpesvirus sequences identical to that found in Asian elephants with endothelial disease. This finding suggests that the Asian elephant deaths were caused by cross-species infection with a herpesvirus that is naturally latent in, but normally not lethal to, African elephants. A reciprocal relationship may exist for the African elephant disease. (+info)
The developing renal, reproductive, and respiratory systems of the African elephant suggest an aquatic ancestry.
The early embryology of the elephant has never been studied before. We have obtained a rare series of African elephant (Loxodonta africana) embryos and fetuses ranging in weight from 0.04 to 18.5 g, estimated gestational ages 58-166 days (duration of gestation is approximately 660 days). Nephrostomes, a feature of aquatic vertebrates, were found in the mesonephric kidneys at all stages of development whereas they have never been recorded in the mesonephric kidneys of other viviparous mammals. The trunk was well developed even in the earliest fetus. The testes were intra-abdominal, and there was no evidence of a gubernaculum, pampiniform plexus, processus vaginalis, or a scrotum, confirming that the elephant, like the dugong, is one of the few primary testicond mammals. The palaeontological evidence suggests that the elephant's ancestors were aquatic, and recent immunological and molecular evidence shows an extremely close affinity between present-day elephants and the aquatic Sirenia (dugong and manatees). The evidence from our embryological study of the elephant also suggests that it evolved from an aquatic mammal. (+info)
What determines the bending strength of compact bone?
The bending strength of a wide variety of bony types is shown to be nearly linearly proportional to Young's modulus of elasticity/100. A somewhat closer and more satisfactory fit is obtained if account is taken of the variation of yield strain with Young's modulus. This finding strongly suggests that bending strength is determined by the yield strain. The yield stress in tension, which might be expected to predict the bending strength, underestimates the true bending strength by approximately 40 %. This may be explained by two phenomena. (1) The post-yield deformation of the bone material allows a greater bending moment to be exerted after the yield point has been reached, thereby increasing the strength as calculated from beam formulae. (2) Loading in bending results in a much smaller proportion of the volume of the specimens being raised to high stresses than is the case in tension, and this reduces the likelihood of a weak part of the specimen being loaded to failure. (+info)
Hormone secretion in the asian elephant (Elephas maximus): characterization of ovulatory and anovulatory luteinizing hormone surges.
In the elephant, two distinct LH surges occur 3 wk apart during the nonluteal phase of the estrous cycle, but only the second surge (ovLH) induces ovulation. The function of the first, anovulatory surge (anLH) is unknown, nor is it clear what regulates the timing of these two surges. To further study this observation in the Asian elephant, serum concentrations of LH, FSH, progesterone, inhibin, estradiol, and prolactin were quantified throughout the estrous cycle to establish temporal hormonal relationships. To examine long-term dynamics of hormone secretion, analyses were conducted in weekly blood samples collected from 3 Asian elephants for up to 3 yr. To determine whether differences existed in secretory patterns between the anLH and ovLH surges, daily blood samples were analyzed from 21 nonluteal-phase periods from 7 Asian elephants. During the nonluteal phase, serum LH was elevated for 1-2 days during anLH and ovLH surges with no differences in peak concentration between the two surges. The anLH surge occurred 19.9+/-1.2 days after the end of the luteal phase and was followed by the ovLH surge 20.8+/-0.5 days later. Serum FSH concentrations were highest at the beginning of the nonluteal phase and gradually declined to nadir concentrations within 4 days of the ovLH surge. FSH remained low until after the ovLH surge and then increased during the luteal phase. Serum inhibin concentrations were negatively correlated with FSH during the nonluteal phase (r = -0.53). Concentrations of estradiol and prolactin fluctuated throughout the estrous cycle with no discernible patterns evident. In sum, there were no clear differences in associated hormone secretory patterns between the anLH and ovLH surge. However, elevated FSH at the beginning of the nonluteal phase may be important for follicle recruitment, with the first anLH surge acting to complete the follicle selection process before ovulation. (+info)
Restriction endonuclease analysis using Hhal and Hpall to discriminate among group B Pasteurella multocida associated with haemorrhagic septicaemia.
The purpose of this study was to improve and standardise restriction endonuclease analysis (REA) for discriminating isolates of serogroup B Pasteurella multocida associated with haemorrhagic septicaemia in wild and domestic animals and to create a reference database that can be used for epidemiological studies. Two techniques for extraction and isolation of chromosomal DNA were compared, a DNAzol method and an enzymic lysis followed by a two-phase partition method. No differences were observed between DNA fingerprint profiles with either technique; however, the former technique was faster and easier to perform. P. multocida isolated from different animals in different countries representing serotypes B:2, B:3, B:3,4 and B:4 were subjected to REA with HhaI and HpaII endonucleases. Forty-eight fingerprint profiles were distinguished among 222 isolates when only HhaI was used. By combining the data from REA with HhaI and HpaII used separately, 88 different groups could be distinguished among the same isolates. Following digestion with HhaI and electrophoresis, the DNA of all serotype B:2 isolates produced fingerprint profiles characterised by two trailing bands at approximately 8.4-7.1 kb which have not been observed in any other serotypes of P. multocida. Passage of three serotype B:2 isolates on laboratory media or two serotype B:2 isolates through mice did not result in a change of DNA fingerprint profile detectable by REA. The findings with 59 isolates from Sri Lanka showed that REA was highly discriminative in determining the genetic diversity of serotype B:2 P. multocida in an area where haemorrhagic septicaemia is endemic. (+info)
Mycobacterium elephantis sp. nov., a rapidly growing non-chromogenic Mycobacterium isolated from an elephant.
A strain isolated from a lung abscess in an elephant that died from chronic respiratory disease was found to have properties consistent with its classification in the genus Mycobacterium. An almost complete sequence of the 165 rDNA of the strain was determined following the cloning and sequencing of the amplified gene. The sequence was aligned with those available on mycobacteria and phylogenetic trees inferred by using three tree-making algorithms. The organism, which formed a distinct phyletic line within the evolutionary radiation occupied by rapidly growing mycobacteria, was readily distinguished from members of validly described species of rapidly growing mycobacteria on the basis of its mycolic acid pattern and by a number of other phenotypic features, notably its ability to grow at higher temperatures. The type strain is Mycobacterium elephantis DSM 44368T. (+info)
Genetic and ultrastructural characterization of a European isolate of the fatal endotheliotropic elephant herpesvirus.
A male Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) died at the Berlin zoological gardens in August 1998 of systemic infection with the novel endotheliotropic elephant herpesvirus (ElHV-1). This virus causes a fatal haemorrhagic disease in Asian elephants, the so-called endothelial inclusion body disease, as reported from North American zoological gardens. In the present work, ElHV-1 was visualized ultrastructurally in affected organ material. Furthermore, a gene block comprising the complete glycoprotein B (gB) and DNA polymerase (DPOL) genes as well as two partial genes was amplified by PCR-based genome walking and sequenced. The gene content and arrangement were similar to those of members of the Betaherpesvirinae. However, phylogenetic analysis with gB and DPOL consistently revealed a very distant relationship to the betaherpesviruses. Therefore, ElHV-1 may be a member of a new genus or even a new herpesvirus subfamily. The sequence information generated was used to set up a nested-PCR assay for diagnosis of suspected cases of endothelial inclusion body disease. Furthermore, it will aid in the development of antibody-based detection methods and of vaccination strategies against this fatal herpesvirus infection in the endangered Asian elephant. (+info)
Molecular and morphological evidence on the phylogeny of the Elephantidae.
The African and Asian elephants and the mammoth diverged ca. 4-6 million years ago and their phylogenetic relationship has been controversial. Morphological studies have suggested a mammoth Asian elephant relationship, while molecular studies have produced conflicting results. We obtained cytochrome b sequences of up to 545 base pairs from five mammoths, 14 Asian and eight African elephants. A high degree of polymorphism is detected within species. With a dugong sequence used as the outgroup, parsimony and maximum-likelihood analyses support a mammoth African elephant clade. As the dugong is a very distant outgroup, we employ likelihood analysis to root the tree with a molecular clock, and use bootstrap and Bayesian analyses to quantify the relative support for different topologies. The analyses support the mammoth African elephant relationship, although other trees cannot be rejected. Ancestral polymorphisms may have resulted in gene trees differing from the species phylogeny Examination of morphological data, especially from primitive fossil members, indicates that some supposed synapomorphies between the mammoth and Asian elephant are variable, others convergent or autapomorphous. A mammoth African elephant relationship is not excluded. Our results highlight the need, in both morphological and molecular phylogenetics, for multiple markers and close attention to within-taxon variation and outgroup selection. (+info)