A number of red squirrels are immune to squirrelpox viral disease, which many believed would lead to the extinction of the species, scientists have discovered.
Scientists led by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) have identified eight cases in which free-living red squirrels have survived infection with the squirrelpox virus by mounting an immune response. The research is published today in the Springer journal Ecohealth.
Dr. Anthony Sainsbury, ZSL researcher and lead author of the paper, said, "We were absolutely delighted to find signs of immunity in red squirrels after years of seeing the squirrelpox virus devastating populations throughout England and Wales. This finding is the first sign of hope in the long struggle to save the species from extinction in the UK."
The red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) is a European rodent which has declined dramatically in the UK since the introduction of grey squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) at the end of the nineteenth century. Their rapid decline has been attributed primarily to the susceptibility of red squirrels to the squirrelpox virus, which the grey squirrel harbours but is immune to and which gives the greys a competitive edge over the reds.
The research also confirmed that changes in the distribution of the squirrelpox disease in red squirrels over time mirrored the changes in the geographical range of the grey squirrel, supporting the theory that the grey squirrel was the reservoir host of the virus, passing it to the red squirrel but remaining immune to the virus itself.
Dr Sainsbury added, "Immunity to the squirrelpox virus should give red squirrels a fighting chance against the grey invaders, without which red squirrels would undoubtedly be destined to lose the battle for survival in the UK. It is imperative that we now discover how widespread immunity to squirrelpox virus in red squirrels is, and begin the work to develop a vaccine to protect the small number of populations that still exist."
The paper was researched and written by scientists from the Zoological Society of London, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Moredun Research Institute, Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Royal Veterinary College and Queen Mary University of London with funding provided by Natural England, People's Trust for Endangered Species, the Zoological Society of London and other funding agencies.
Joan Robinson | alfa
Molecular evolution: How the building blocks of life may form in space
26.04.2018 | American Institute of Physics
Multifunctional bacterial microswimmer able to deliver cargo and destroy itself
26.04.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Intelligente Systeme
Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, is a widely used medical tool for taking pictures of the insides of our body. One way to make MRI scans easier to read is...
At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.
Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...
Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.
Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...
University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.
Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.
Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.
Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
09.04.2018 | Event News
26.04.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
26.04.2018 | Life Sciences
26.04.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering