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 Discovery of a Key Regulatory Gene in Cardiac Valve Formation
24.05.2017 | Universität Basel

nachricht Carcinogenic soot particles from GDI engines
24.05.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Physicists discover mechanism behind granular capillary effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Measured for the first time: Direction of light waves changed by quantum effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>