Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Finding a virus is not all bad news

08.03.2006


Questions around the movement and population size changes of Kiwis, Tuatara and other New Zealand wildlife over the past hundred years have been continually studied by conservationists and scientists. It now seems the answers might all be found in the viruses that infect them.



Dr Alexei Drummond, from The University of Auckland’s Faculty of Science, has been part of a global research team analysing the genetic sequences of viruses in animals.

This pioneering technique has so far proved to be more effective than the traditional technique of using genetic material directly from the animal.


"Analysing a virus in a group of animals enables us to determine such things as their population size, the population changes, rate of evolution and rate of movement in the past hundred years," says Alexei, who is a lecturer in Computer Science and Bioinformatics.

Studying cougars in the Rocky Mountains in North America the research team took blood samples from 352 cougars along with a GPS reading from where the sample was collected.

The blood samples were then tested for the FIV virus, which is passed from cougar to cougar through physical contact or at birth.

"Viruses evolve rapidly so once you have a common virus such as FIV infecting a large percentage of cougars you are able to analyse its genetic sequence to learn about the cat population.

"Every virus strain has its own unique mutations and as the virus is passed from cougar to cougar these mutations in the virus accumulate, leaving a valuable trail of information about the host animal’s relationships to each other. Because of the way the virus is transmitted, closely related cougars will have closely related viruses. It is for that reason we can use the viruses to track the cats and learn about their recent history."

Once the viruses have been sequenced the data, GPS readings and sample dates were entered into a computer programme, designed by Alexei.

The software analysed the data by comparing the genetic information from the different virus strains with their geographic positions and the date that they were sampled. Together with a mathematical model of how the virus evolves this information was used to estimate the cougar’s population size, the changes in the population over time, rate of evolution and rate of movement.

"This new technique of analysing the genetic data from a virus in an animal rather than the animals own genes has been more effective for short term information and is both cheaper and a far quicker process," says Alexei.

The research team’s findings were recently published in Science, one of the worlds leading science journals for new research.

Bill Williams | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.auckland.ac.nz

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Researchers develop eco-friendly, 4-in-1 catalyst
25.04.2017 | Brown University

nachricht Transfecting cells gently – the LZH presents a GNOME prototype at the Labvolution 2017
25.04.2017 | Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V.

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA's Fermi catches gamma-ray flashes from tropical storms

25.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers invent process to make sustainable rubber, plastics

25.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Transfecting cells gently – the LZH presents a GNOME prototype at the Labvolution 2017

25.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>