Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How world's smallest DNA virus evolved in rare parakeets

Date:
March 6, 2012
Source:
University of Kent
Summary:
Scientists have gained new insight into a rare virus that is threatening to wipe out the Mauritius parakeet -- one of the world’s most endangered species of parrot.

Infected Mauritius parakeet.
Credit: Courtesy of Dr Jim Groombridge

A University of Kent-led team of scientists has gained new insight into a rare virus that is threatening to wipe out the Mauritius parakeet -- one of the world's most endangered species of parrot.

Related Articles


The Mauritius parakeet was saved from the brink of extinction 30 years ago, thanks to the work of an international team of conservationists, including scientists from Kent. Now an outbreak of deadly Beak and Feather Disease is once again raising the spectre of extinction.

But a team led by Dr Jim Groombridge, of the University's Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE), has been able to make use of its archive of DNA samples from Mauritius parakeets, built up over many years, to identify how the world's smallest DNA circoviruses have evolved to cause the spread of the disease.

Dr Groombridge said: 'Circoviruses are amongst the smallest and simplest of all DNA viruses and detailed knowledge of how they evolve has largely remained a mystery, but the outbreak of Beak and Feather Disease ironically presented our team of scientists with the rare opportunity to gain an insight into the evolution of what is a poorly-characterised virus in a wild population.

'We were able to analyse viral DNA extracted from Mauritius parakeet blood samples which had been taken from the population annually as part of the routine field monitoring programme. Fortuitously, this 16 year archive of samples encompassed periods before, during and after the outbreak, allowing an analysis that would document the event as it happened.

'What our team found was remarkable: immediately prior to the outbreak, two mutations were pin-pointed to have occurred within a gene of the virus that is involved in viral replication. The exact functional nature of these changes and how they elicited the outbreak is presently unknown.'

The team's findings, published in the Journal of Virology, are exciting for scientists because the gene involved in viral replication, one of only two genes known for this virus, has always been considered to be relatively impervious to the influence of natural selection.

'Perhaps most remarkable of all was how the new mutant forms of the virus then quickly out-competed all other viral genotypes within the parakeet population. This phenomenon, known as a selective sweep, has never before been observed in such detail in a virus infecting a natural wildlife population,' said Dr Groombridge.

Now the team, made up of scientists from DICE, which is part of the University's School of Anthropology and Conservation, as well as Kent's School of Mathematics, Statistics and Actuarial Science, Wildlife Vets International, the Mauritius Wildlife Foundation, the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and the Roslin Institute, have focused research on the immune system of the Mauritius parakeet. This will form part of continued international efforts to assist the Mauritius government to save this endangered species.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Kent. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. S. Kundu, C. G. Faulkes, A. G. Greenwood, C. G. Jones, P. Kaiser, O. D. Lyne, S. A. Black, A. Chowrimootoo, J. J. Groombridge. Tracking Viral Evolution During a Disease Outbreak: The Rapid and Complete Selective Sweep of a Circovirus in the Endangered Echo parakeet. Journal of Virology, 2012; DOI: 10.1128/JVI.06504-11

Cite This Page:

University of Kent. "How world's smallest DNA virus evolved in rare parakeets." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 March 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120306131148.htm>.
University of Kent. (2012, March 6). How world's smallest DNA virus evolved in rare parakeets. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120306131148.htm
University of Kent. "How world's smallest DNA virus evolved in rare parakeets." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120306131148.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) Price check on honey? Bear cub startles Oregon drugstore shoppers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins