Bluetongue is a serious disease affecting ruminants such as sheep and cattle. It was first detected in the UK in 2007 but has not yet affected Scotland. It can be spread by species of Culicoides biting midge present in the UK. European midges have been exposed to bluetongue and can spread the disease. Coupled with climate change, this means the disease poses a major threat to UK agriculture.
The species of midges present in the UK potentially differ in their ability to spread bluetongue, so predicting how the disease might spread depends on mapping the distribution of these species. DeGabriel’s new “bar-coding” system makes this possible for the first time.
According to DeGabriel: “The four species within the group Culicoides obsoletus that we are interested in cannot be distinguished visually. So we are using a genetic bar-coding approach to identify the midges to species level using molecular methods. We have developed a high-throughput genetic screening method to identify large sample sizes of midges to species level, both efficiently and cost-effectively.”
During 2007 and 2008, DeGabriel and her colleagues collected one million midges from light traps set up on 37 farms throughout Scotland, from the English border in the south to as far north as Thurso. Using the bar-coding technique they were then able to produce a detailed “midge map” of Scotland. This showed midge numbers and species varied both geographically and seasonally, reflecting differences in climate and habitat.
“This is the first large-scale study of the distribution and abundance of Scottish midge species. We found that all four species of midges were present in all areas of Scotland, but the relative numbers of each species differed between the trapping sites. We also found the mixture of species differed at individual sites at different times of the year. These differences between and within sites appear to be due to differences in climatic conditions and habitat. Our findings provide vital information for assessing the risk of bluetongue being transmitted in Scotland and the effects of climate change on the spread of this and other animal diseases,” DeGabriel explains.
“Given the introduction of bluetongue into England and the persistence of favourable climatic conditions such as the recent milder winters, this research is extremely urgent and important. Our results will help scientists and policy makers develop risk mitigation and management strategies for bluetongue and other animal diseases,” DeGabriel says.
Jane DeGabriel will present her full findings at 09:10 on Thursday 4 September 2008 to the British Ecological Society’s Annual Meeting at Imperial College, London.
Her research is being carried out under a Scottish Government grant to the University of Aberdeen, Advanced Pest Solutions Ltd and the Institute for Animal Health, Pirbright.
Becky Allen | alfa
Are cover crops negatively impacting row crops?
30.07.2020 | American Society of Agronomy
Space to grow, or grow in space -- how vertical farms could be ready to take-off
14.07.2020 | John Innes Centre
Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT have come up with a striking new addition to contact stamping technologies in the ERDF research project ScanCut. In collaboration with industry partners from North Rhine-Westphalia, the Aachen-based team of researchers developed a hybrid manufacturing process for the laser cutting of thin-walled metal strips. This new process makes it possible to fabricate even the tiniest details of contact parts in an eco-friendly, high-precision and efficient manner.
Plug connectors are tiny and, at first glance, unremarkable – yet modern vehicles would be unable to function without them. Several thousand plug connectors...
An international research team has found a new approach that may be able to reduce bone loss in osteoporosis and maintain bone health.
Osteoporosis is the most common age-related bone disease which affects hundreds of millions of individuals worldwide. It is estimated that one in three women...
Traditional single-cell sequencing methods help to reveal insights about cellular differences and functions - but they do this with static snapshots only...
“Core-shell” clusters pave the way for new efficient nanomaterials that make catalysts, magnetic and laser sensors or measuring devices for detecting electromagnetic radiation more efficient.
Whether in innovative high-tech materials, more powerful computer chips, pharmaceuticals or in the field of renewable energies, nanoparticles – smallest...
An international research team with Prof. Cornelia Denz from the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Münster develop for the first time light fields using caustics that do not change during propagation. With the new method, the physicists cleverly exploit light structures that can be seen in rainbows or when light is transmitted through drinking glasses.
Modern applications as high resolution microsopy or micro- or nanoscale material processing require customized laser beams that do not change during...
23.07.2020 | Event News
21.07.2020 | Event News
07.07.2020 | Event News
06.08.2020 | Earth Sciences
06.08.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering
06.08.2020 | Life Sciences