Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Metal in feathers could provide bird flu clues

16.03.2007
Measurements of different forms of the metal strontium found in bird feathers could unravel mysteries of their migration patterns and help predict the arrival of avian carried diseases such as bird flu.

The news is reported in the latest edition of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry.

Concerns about the spread of bird flu means there is an urgent need to find better ways of monitoring the movements of migrating birds.

Dr Laura Font and a team at the University of Durham have developed a technique based on thermal ionisation mass spectrometry (TIMS) that can measure very low concentrations of strontium isotopes in bird feathers. (Isotopes of an element have the same number of protons but different numbers of neutrons in their nucleus)

The team measured strontium isotope levels in the feathers of the sedge warbler, and mapped how this changed with geographic location.

Dr Font said: “The routes of migrant birds have previously been studied using a variety of techniques, such as marking individuals with metal leg rings, radio or satellite tags, or simply counting bird numbers at migratory stop over points.

“But these labour intensive methods generate relatively little date and often do not reveal the origin of individual birds.”

Migratory birds regularly renew their feathers, often prior to migration – and the feathers tend to reflect the unique “isotopic signature” of the region in which they were grown.

Although analysis of carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen and oxygen isotopes can give a rough idea of the birds’ origin, strontium isotope ratios in the bones, claws and egg shells of birds tend to provide a much more precise location.

Unfortunately, bone analysis is too invasive for routine use. But Dr Font’s technique has finally made accurate analysis of strontium in feathers a viable option for tracking birds.

Dr Font said: “By determining migration pathways, the arrival of potential vectors of diseases from infected areas can be anticipated.

“Knowledge of migratory routes also helps evaluate the likelihood that individual avian influenza outbreaks could be related to migratory movements rather than anthropogenic activities, such as poultry movements, which are believed to be the main vector of avian influenza in most outbreaks.”

Tony Kirby | alfa
Further information:
http://www.rsc.org

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Waste in the water – New purification techniques for healthier aquatic ecosystems
24.07.2018 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

nachricht Plenty of habitat for bears in Europe
24.07.2018 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

Im Focus: Lining up surprising behaviors of superconductor with one of the world's strongest magnets

Scientists have discovered that the electrical resistance of a copper-oxide compound depends on the magnetic field in a very unusual way -- a finding that could help direct the search for materials that can perfectly conduct electricity at room temperatur

What happens when really powerful magnets--capable of producing magnetic fields nearly two million times stronger than Earth's--are applied to materials that...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

2018 Work Research Conference

25.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

15.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Diving robots find Antarctic winter seas exhale surprising amounts of carbon dioxide

15.08.2018 | Earth Sciences

Early opaque universe linked to galaxy scarcity

15.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>