Evolution of endogenous retrovirus-like elements of the woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) and its relatives. (1/18)

Endogenous retrovirus-like elements characterizable by a leucine tRNA primer (ERV-Ls) are reiterated genomic sequences known to be widespread in mammals, including humans. They may have arisen from an ancestral foamy virus-like element by successful germ line infection followed by copy number expansion. However, among mammals, only primates and rodents have thus far exhibited high copy number amplification and sequence diversification. Conventionally, empirical studies of proviral amplification and diversification have been limited to extant species, but taxa having good Quaternary fossil records could potentially be investigated using the techniques of "ancient" DNA research. To examine evolutionary parameters of ERV-Ls across both time and taxa, we characterized this proviral class in the extinct woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) and living elephants, as well as extant members of the larger clade to which they belong (Uranotheria, a group containing proboscideans, sirenians, hyraxes, and their extinct relatives). Ungulates and carnivores previously analyzed demonstrated low copy numbers of ERV-L sequences, and thus it was expected that uranotheres should as well. Here, we show that all uranothere taxa exhibit unexpectedly numerous and diverse ERV-L sequence complements, indicating active expansion within this group of lineages. Selection is the most parsimonious explanation for observed differences in ERV-L distribution and frequency, with relative success being reflected in the persistence of certain elements over a variety of sampled time depths (as can be observed by comparing sequences from fossil and extant elephantid samples).  (+info)

Vascular adaptations for heat conservation in the tail of Florida manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris). (2/18)

Although Florida manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris) have relatively low basal metabolic rates for aquatic mammals of their size, they maintain normal mammalian core temperatures. We describe vascular structures in the manatee tail that permit countercurrent heat exchange (CCHE) to conserve thermal energy. Approximately 1000 arteries juxtaposed to 2000 veins are found at the cranial end of the caudal vascular bundle (CVB); these numbers decrease caudally, but the 1:2 ratio of arteries to veins persists. Arterial walls are relatively thin when compared to those previously described in vascular countercurrent heat exchangers in cetaceans. It is assumed that CCHE in the CVB helps manatees to maintain core temperatures. Activity in warm water, however, mandates a mechanism that prevents elevated core temperatures. The tail could transfer heat to the environment if arterial blood delivered to the skin were warmer than the surrounding water; unfortunately, CCHE prevents this heat transfer. We describe deep caudal veins that provide a collateral venous return from the tail. This return, which is physically outside the CVB, reduces the venous volume within the bundle and allows arterial expansion and increased arterial supply to the skin, and thus helps prevent elevated core temperatures.  (+info)

Characterization of a novel close-to-root papillomavirus from a Florida manatee by using multiply primed rolling-circle amplification: Trichechus manatus latirostris papillomavirus type 1. (3/18)

By using an isothermal multiply primed rolling-circle amplification protocol, the complete genomic DNA of a novel papillomavirus was amplified from a skin lesion biopsy of a Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris), one of the most endangered marine mammals in United States coastal waters. The nucleotide sequence, genome organization, and phylogenetic position of the Trichechus manatus latirostris papillomavirus type 1 (TmPV-1) were determined. TmPV-1 is the first virus isolated from the order of Sirenia. A phylogenetic analysis shows that TmPV-1 is only distantly related to other papillomavirus sequences, and it appears in our phylogenetic tree as a novel close-to-root papillomavirus genus.  (+info)

The visual pigments of the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus). (4/18)

Manatees are unique among the fully aquatic marine mammals in that they are herbivorous creatures, with hunting strategies restricted to grazing on sea-grasses. Since the other groups of (carnivorous) marine mammals have been found to possess various visual system adaptations to their unique visual environments, it was of interest to investigate the visual capability of the manatee. Previous work, both behavioral (Griebel & Schmid, 1996), and ultrastructural (Cohen, Tucker, & Odell, 1982; unpublished work cited by Griebel & Peichl, 2003), has suggested that manatees have the dichromatic color vision typical of diurnal mammals. This study uses molecular techniques to investigate the cone visual pigments of the manatee. The aim was to clone and sequence cone opsins from the retina, and, if possible, express and reconstitute functional visual pigments to perform spectral analysis. Both LWS and SWS cone opsins were cloned and sequenced from manatee retinae, which, upon expression and spectral analysis, had lambda(max) values of 555 and 410 nm, respectively. The expression of both the LWS and SWS cone opsin in the manatee retina is unique as both pinnipeds and cetaceans only express a cone LWS opsin.  (+info)

Chromosome painting in the manatee supports Afrotheria and Paenungulata. (5/18)

BACKGROUND: Sirenia (manatees, dugongs and Stellar's sea cow) have no evolutionary relationship with other marine mammals, despite similarities in adaptations and body shape. Recent phylogenomic results place Sirenia in Afrotheria and with elephants and rock hyraxes in Paenungulata. Sirenia and Hyracoidea are the two afrotherian orders as yet unstudied by comparative molecular cytogenetics. Here we report on the chromosome painting of the Florida manatee. RESULTS: The human autosomal and X chromosome paints delimited a total of 44 homologous segments in the manatee genome. The synteny of nine of the 22 human autosomal chromosomes (4, 5, 6, 9, 11, 14, 17, 18 and 20) and the X chromosome were found intact in the manatee. The syntenies of other human chromosomes were disrupted in the manatee genome into two to five segments. The hybridization pattern revealed that 20 (15 unique) associations of human chromosome segments are found in the manatee genome: 1/15, 1/19, 2/3 (twice), 3/7 (twice), 3/13, 3/21, 5/21, 7/16, 8/22, 10/12 (twice), 11/20, 12/22 (three times), 14/15, 16/19 and 18/19. CONCLUSION: There are five derived chromosome traits that strongly link elephants with manatees in Tethytheria and give implicit support to Paenungulata: the associations 2/3, 3/13, 8/22, 18/19 and the loss of the ancestral eutherian 4/8 association. It would be useful to test these conclusions with chromosome painting in hyraxes. The manatee chromosome painting data confirm that the associations 1/19 and 5/21 phylogenetically link afrotherian species and show that Afrotheria is a natural clade. The association 10/12/22 is also ubiquitous in Afrotheria (clade I), present in Laurasiatheria (clade IV), only partially present in Xenarthra (10/12, clade II) and absent in Euarchontoglires (clade III). If Afrotheria is basal to eutherians, this association could be part of the ancestral eutherian karyotype. If afrotherians are not at the root of the eutherian tree, then the 10/12/22 association could be one of a suite of derived associations linking afrotherian taxa.  (+info)

Chromosome painting among Proboscidea, Hyracoidea and Sirenia: support for Paenungulata (Afrotheria, Mammalia) but not Tethytheria. (6/18)

Despite marked improvements in the interpretation of systematic relationships within Eutheria, particular nodes, including Paenungulata (Hyracoidea, Sirenia and Proboscidea), remain ambiguous. The combination of a rapid radiation, a deep divergence and an extensive morphological diversification has resulted in a limited phylogenetic signal confounding resolution within this clade both at the morphological and nucleotide levels. Cross-species chromosome painting was used to delineate regions of homology between Loxodonta africana (2n=56), Procavia capensis (2n=54), Trichechus manatus latirostris (2n=48) and an outgroup taxon, the aardvark (Orycteropus afer, 2n=20). Changes specific to each lineage were identified and although the presence of a minimum of 11 synapomorphies confirmed the monophyly of Paenungulata, no change characterizing intrapaenungulate relationships was evident. The reconstruction of an ancestral paenungulate karyotype and the estimation of rates of chromosomal evolution indicate a reduced rate of genomic repatterning following the paenungulate radiation. In comparison to data available for other mammalian taxa, the paenungulate rate of chromosomal evolution is slow to moderate. As a consequence, the absence of a chromosomal character uniting two paenungulates (at the level of resolution characterized in this study) may be due to a reduced rate of chromosomal change relative to the length of time separating successive divergence events.  (+info)

Vertebral anatomy in the Florida manatee, Trichechus manatus latirostris: a developmental and evolutionary analysis. (7/18)

The vertebral column of the Florida manatee presents an unusual suite of morphological traits. Key among these are a small precaudal count, elongate thoracic vertebrae, extremely short neural spines, lack of a sacral series, high lumbar variability, and the presence of six instead of seven cervical vertebrae. This study documents vertebral morphology, size, and lumbar variation in 71 skeletons of Trichechus manatus latirostris (Florida manatee) and uses the skeletons of Trichechus senegalensis (west African manatee) and Dugong dugon (dugong) in comparative analysis. Vertebral traits are used to define morphological, and by inference developmental, column modules and to propose their hierarchical relationships. A sequence of evolutionary innovations in column morphology is proposed. Results suggest that the origin of the fluke and low rates of cervical growth originated before separation of trichechids (manatees) and dugongids (dugongs). Meristic reduction in count is a later, trichechid innovation and is expressed across the entire precaudal column. Elongation of thoracic vertebrae may be an innovative strategy to generate an elongate column in an animal with a small precaudal count. Elimination of the lumbus through both meristic and homeotic reduction is currently in progress.  (+info)

Swimming kinematics of the Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris): hydrodynamic analysis of an undulatory mammalian swimmer. (8/18)

The submerged swimming of the Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris), a subspecies of the West Indian manatee, was studied by filming individuals as they swam rectilinearly in a large pool at several rehabilitation centers. The swimming was analyzed using videography to detail the kinematics in conjunction with a hydromechanical model to determine the power output (P(t)) and propulsive efficiency (eta(p)). Manatees swam at velocities of 0.06-1.14 m s(-1). Locomotion was accomplished by undulation of the body and caudal fluke. Undulatory locomotion is a rapid and relatively high-powered propulsive mode involved in cruising and migrating by a variety of swimmers. Manatees displayed an undulatory swimming mode by passing a dorso-ventrally oriented traveling wave posteriorly along the body. The propulsive wave traveled at a higher velocity than the forward velocity of the animal. The frequency of the propulsive cycle (f) increased linearly with increasing swimming velocity (U). Amplitude at the tip of the caudal fluke (A) remained constant with respect to U and was 22% of body length. P(t) increased curvilinearly with U. The mean eta(p), expressing the relationship of the thrust power generated by the paddle-shaped caudal fluke to the total mechanical power, was 0.73. The maximum eta(p) was 0.82 at 0.95 m s(-1). Despite use of a primitive undulatory swimming mode and paddle-like fluke for propulsion, the manatee is capable of swimming with a high efficiency but lower power outputs compared with the oscillatory movements of the high-aspect ratio flukes of cetaceans. The swimming performance of the manatee is in accordance with its habits as an aquatic grazer that seasonally migrates over extended distances.  (+info)