Publications by authors named "Jonathan A Green"

77 Publications

Environmental heterogeneity promotes individual specialisation in habitat selection in a widely distributed seabird.

J Anim Ecol 2021 Sep 7. Epub 2021 Sep 7.

School of Environmental Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK.

Individual specialisations in behaviour are predicted to arise where divergence benefits fitness. Such specialisations are more likely in heterogeneous environments where there is both greater ecological opportunity and competition-driven frequency dependent selection. Such an effect could explain observed differences in rates of individual specialisation in habitat selection, as it offers individuals an opportunity to select for habitat types that maximise resource gain while minimising competition; however, this mechanism has not been tested before. Here, we use habitat selection functions to quantify individual specialisations while foraging by black-legged kittiwakes Rissa tridactyla, a marine top predator, at 15 colonies around the United Kingdom and Ireland, along a gradient of environmental heterogeneity. We find support for the hypothesis that individual specialisations in habitat selection while foraging are more prevalent in heterogeneous environments. This trend was significant across multiple dynamic habitat variables that change over short time-scales and did not arise through site fidelity, which highlights the importance of environmental processes in facilitating behavioural adaptation by predators. Individual differences may drive evolutionary processes, and therefore these results suggest that there is broad scope for the degree of environmental heterogeneity to determine current and future population, species and community dynamics.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1365-2656.13588DOI Listing
September 2021

Differential Transcript Profiles in Cumulus-Oocyte Complexes Originating from Pre-Ovulatory Follicles of Varied Physiological Maturity in Beef Cows.

Genes (Basel) 2021 06 10;12(6). Epub 2021 Jun 10.

USDA-ARS Fort Keogh Livestock and Range Research Lab, Miles City, MT 59301, USA.

Small dominant follicle diameter at induced ovulation, but not at spontaneous ovulation, decreased pregnancy rate, fertilization rate, and day seven embryo quality in beef cows. We hypothesized that the physiological status of the follicle at GnRH-induced ovulation has a direct effect on the transcriptome of the Cumulus-Oocyte complex, thereby affecting oocyte competence and subsequent embryo development. The objective of this study was to determine if the transcriptome of oocytes and associated cumulus cells (CC) differed among small (≤11.7 mm) and large follicles (≥12.7 mm) exposed to a GnRH-induced gonadotropin surge and follicles (11.7-14.0 mm) exposed to an endogenous gonadotropin surge (spontaneous follicles). RNA sequencing data, from pools of four oocytes or their corresponding CC, revealed 69, 94, and 83 differentially expressed gene transcripts (DEG) among oocyte pools from small versus large, small versus spontaneous, and large versus spontaneous follicle classifications, respectively. An additional 128, 98, and 80 DEG were identified among small versus large, small versus spontaneous, and large versus spontaneous follicle CC pools, respectively. The biological pathway "oxidative phosphorylation" was significantly enriched with DEG from small versus spontaneous follicle oocyte pools (FDR < 0.01); whereas the glycolytic pathway was significantly enriched with DEG from CC pools obtained from large versus small follicles (FDR < 0.01). These findings collectively suggest that altered carbohydrate metabolism within the Cumulus-Oocyte complex likely contributes to the decreased competency of oocytes from small pre-ovulatory follicles exposed to an exogenous GnRH-induced gonadotropin surge.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/genes12060893DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8227736PMC
June 2021

Deciphering the functional role of EGR1 in Prostaglandin F2 alpha induced luteal regression applying CRISPR in corpus luteum of buffalo.

Biol Res 2021 Mar 12;54(1). Epub 2021 Mar 12.

Physiology & Climatology Division, ICAR-Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Izatnagar, Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, 243122, India.

Background: PGF2α is essential for the induction of the corpus luteum regression which in turn reduces progesterone production. Early growth response (EGR) proteins are Cys2-His2-type zinc-finger transcription factor that are strongly linked to cellular proliferation, survival and apoptosis. Rapid elevation of EGR1 was observed after luteolytic dose of PGF2α. EGR1 is involved in the transactivation of many genes, including TGFβ1, which plays an important role during luteal regression.

Methods: The current study was conducted in buffalo luteal cells with the aim to better understand the role of EGR1 in transactivation of TGFβ1 during PGF2α induced luteal regression. Luteal cells from mid stage corpus luteum of buffalo were cultured and treated with different doses of PGF2α for different time durations. Relative expression of mRNAs encoding for enzymes within the progesterone biosynthetic pathway (3βHSD, CYP11A1 and StAR); Caspase 3; AKT were analyzed to confirm the occurrence of luteolytic event. To determine if EGR1 is involved in the PGF2α induced luteal regression via induction of TGFβ1 expression, we knocked out the EGR1 gene by using CRISPR/Cas9.

Result: The present experiment determined whether EGR1 protein expression in luteal cells was responsive to PGF2α treatment. Quantification of EGR1 and TGFβ1 mRNA showed significant up regulation in luteal cells of buffalo at 12 h post PGF2α induction. In order to validate the role of PGF2α on stimulating the expression of TGFβ1 by an EGR1 dependent mechanism we knocked out EGR1. The EGR1 ablated luteal cells were stimulated with PGF2α and it was observed that EGR1 KO did not modulate the PGF2α induced expression of TGFβ1. In PGF2α treated EGR1 KO luteal cell, the mRNA expression of Caspase 3 was significantly increased compared to PGF2α treated wild type luteal cells maintained for 12 h. We also studied the influence of EGR1 on steroidogenesis. The EGR1 KO luteal cells with PGF2α treatment showed no substantial difference either in the progesterone concentration or in StAR mRNA expression with PGF2α-treated wild type luteal cells.

Conclusion: These results suggest that EGR1 signaling is not the only factor which plays a role in the regulation of PGF2α induced TGFβ1 signaling for luteolysis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40659-021-00333-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7953609PMC
March 2021

Modulation of granulosa cell function via CRISPR-Cas fuelled editing of BMPR-IB gene in goats (Capra hircus).

Sci Rep 2020 11 24;10(1):20446. Epub 2020 Nov 24.

Physiology and Climatology Division, ICAR-Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Izatnagar, Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, 243122, India.

BMPs are multifunctional growth factors implicated in regulating the ovarian function as key intra-ovarian factors. Biological effects of BMPs are mediated through binding with membrane bound receptors like BMPR-IB and initiating downstream Smad signaling pathway. FecB mutation, regarded as a loss of function mutation in the BMPR-IB gene was identified in certain sheep breeds having high fecundity. Similar type of fecundity genes in goats have not been discovered so far. Hence, the current study was designed to investigate the effects of BMPR-IB gene modulation on granulosa cell function in goats. The BMPR-IB gene was knocked out using CRISPR-Cas technology in granulosa cells and cultured in vitro with BMP-4 stimulation for three different durations In addition, the FecB mutation was introduced in the BMPR-IB gene applying Easi-CRISPR followed by BMP-4/7 stimulation for 72 h. Steroidogenesis and cell viability were studied to explore the granulosa cell function on BMPR-IB gene modulation. BMPRs were found to be expressed stage specifically in granulosa cells of goats. Higher transcriptional abundance of R-Smads, LHR and FSHR indicating sensitisation of Smad signaling and increased gonadotropin sensitivity along with a significant reduction in the cell proliferation and viability was observed in granulosa cells upon BMPR-IB modulation. The inhibitory action of BMP-4/7 on P4 secretion was abolished in both KO and KI cells. Altogether, the study has revealed an altered Smad signaling, steroidogenesis and cell viability upon modulation of BMPR-IB gene in granulosa cells similar to that are documented in sheep breeds carrying the FecB mutation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-77596-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7686318PMC
November 2020

Small Non-Coding RNAome of Ageing Chondrocytes.

Int J Mol Sci 2020 Aug 7;21(16). Epub 2020 Aug 7.

Institute of Life Course and Medical Sciences, William Henry Duncan Building, 6 West Derby Street, Liverpool L7 8TX, UK.

Ageing is a leading risk factor predisposing cartilage to osteoarthritis. However, little research has been conducted on the effect of ageing on the expression of small non-coding RNAs (sncRNAs). RNA from young and old chondrocytes from macroscopically normal equine metacarpophalangeal joints was extracted and subjected to small RNA sequencing (RNA-seq). Differential expression analysis was performed in R using package DESeq2. For transfer RNA (tRNA) fragment analysis, tRNA reads were aligned to horse tRNA sequences using Bowtie2 version 2.2.5. Selected microRNA (miRNAs or miRs) and small nucleolar RNA (snoRNA) findings were validated using real-time quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (qRT-PCR) in an extended cohort of equine chondrocytes. tRNA fragments were further investigated in low- and high-grade OA human cartilage tissue. In total, 83 sncRNAs were differentially expressed between young and old equine chondrocytes, including miRNAs, snoRNAs, small nuclear RNAs (snRNAs), and tRNAs. qRT-PCR analysis confirmed findings. tRNA fragment analysis revealed that tRNA halves (tiRNAs), tiRNA-5035-GluCTC and tiRNA-5031-GluCTC-1 were reduced in both high grade OA human cartilage and old equine chondrocytes. For the first time, we have measured the effect of ageing on the expression of sncRNAs in equine chondrocytes. Changes were detected in a number of different sncRNA species. This study supports a role for sncRNAs in ageing cartilage and their potential involvement in age-related cartilage diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijms21165675DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7461137PMC
August 2020

Interactions between Environmental Contaminants and Gastrointestinal Parasites: Novel Insights from an Integrative Approach in a Marine Predator.

Environ Sci Technol 2020 07 3;54(14):8938-8948. Epub 2020 Jul 3.

School of Environmental Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 3GP, U.K.

Environmental contaminants and parasites are ubiquitous stressors that can affect animal physiology and derive from similar dietary sources (co-exposure). To unravel their interactions in wildlife, it is thus essential to quantify their concurring drivers. Here, the relationship between blood contaminant residues (11 trace elements and 17 perfluoroalkyl substances) and nonlethally quantified gastrointestinal parasite loads was tested while accounting for intrinsic (sex, age, and mass) and extrinsic factors (trophic ecology inferred from stable isotope analyses and biologging) in European shags . Shags had high mercury (range 0.65-3.21 μg g wet weight, ww) and extremely high perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) residues (3.46-53 and 4.48-44 ng g ww, respectively). Males had higher concentrations of arsenic, mercury, PFOA, and PFNA than females, while the opposite was true for selenium, perfluorododecanoic acid (PFDoA), and perfluooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS). Individual parasite loads () were higher in males than in females. Females targeted pelagic-feeding prey, while males relied on both pelagic- and benthic-feeding organisms. Parasite loads were not related to trophic ecology in either sex, suggesting no substantial dietary co-exposure with contaminants. In females, parasite loads increased strongly with decreasing selenium:mercury molar ratios. Females may be more susceptible to the interactive effects of contaminants and parasites on physiology, with potential fitness consequences.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.0c03021DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7467638PMC
July 2020

Early growth response gene mediates in VEGF and FGF signaling as dissected by CRISPR in corpus luteum of water buffalo.

Sci Rep 2020 04 22;10(1):6849. Epub 2020 Apr 22.

ICAR-Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Physiology & Climatology Division, Izatnagar, Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, 243122, India.

The EGR family comprises of EGR 1, EGR 2, EGR 3 and EGR 4 which are involved in the transactivation of several genes. A broad range of extracellular stimuli by growth factors is capable of activating EGR mediated transactivation of genes involved in angiogenesis and cell proliferation. However, their role in controlling VEGF A and FGF 2 signaling in the CL of water buffalo is not known. The present study was conducted to understand the role of EGR mediated regulation of VEGF A and FGF 2 signaling in buffalo luteal cells. Towards this goal, luteal cells were cultured and treated with VEGF A and FGF 2 and the mRNA expression pattern of EGR family members were documented. The EGR 1 message was found to be up-regulated in luteal cells of buffalo at 72 hours of culture. The functional validation of EGR 1 gene was accomplished by knocking out (KO) of EGR 1 in cultured luteal cells by CRISPR/Cas9 mediated gene editing technology. The EGR 1 KO cells were then cultured and stimulated with VEGF A and FGF 2. It was observed that VEGF A and FGF 2 induced angiogenesis, cell proliferation and steroidogenesis in wild type luteal cells, whereas the response of the growth factors was attenuated in the EGR 1 KO cells. Taken together our study provides evidence convincingly that both VEGF and FGF mediate their biological action through a common intermediate, EGR 1, to regulate corpus luteum function of buffalo.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-63804-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7176634PMC
April 2020

Consistent sociality but flexible social associations across temporal and spatial foraging contexts in a colonial breeder.

Ecol Lett 2020 Jul 20;23(7):1085-1096. Epub 2020 Apr 20.

School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Hwy, Burwood, Vic., 3125, Australia.

When the consequences of sociality differ depending on the state of individual animals and the experienced environment, individuals may benefit from altering their social behaviours in a context-dependent manner. Thus, to fully address the hypotheses about the role of social associations it is imperative to consider the multidimensional nature of sociality by explicitly examining social associations across multiple scales and contexts. We simultaneously recorded > 8000 associations from 85% of breeding individuals from a colony of Australasian gannets (Morus serrator) over a 2-week period, and examined gregariousness across four foraging states using multilayer social network analysis. We found that social associations varied in a context-dependent manner, highlighting that social associations are most prevalent during foraging (local enhancement) and in regions expected to provide clustered resources. We also provide evidence of individual consistency in gregariousness, but flexibility in social associates, demonstrating that individuals can adjust their social behaviours to match experienced conditions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ele.13507DOI Listing
July 2020

A year in the life of a North Atlantic seabird: behavioural and energetic adjustments during the annual cycle.

Sci Rep 2020 04 7;10(1):5993. Epub 2020 Apr 7.

School of Environmental Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK.

During their annual cycles, animals face a series of energetic challenges as they prioritise different life history events by engaging in temporally and potentially spatially segregated reproductive and non-breeding periods. Investigating behaviour and energy use across these periods is fundamental to understanding how animals survive the changing conditions associated with annual cycles. We estimated year-round activity budgets, energy expenditure, location, colony attendance and foraging behaviour for surviving individuals from a population of common guillemots Uria aalge. Despite the potential constraints of reduced day lengths and sea surface temperatures in winter, guillemots managed their energy expenditure throughout the year. Values were high prior to and during the breeding season, driven by a combination of high thermoregulatory costs, diving activity, colony attendance and associated flight. Guillemots also exhibited partial colony attendance outside the breeding season, likely supported by local resources. Additionally, there was a mismatch in the timing of peaks in dive effort and a peak in nocturnal foraging activity, indicating that guillemots adapted their foraging behaviour to the availability of prey rather than daylight. Our study identifies adaptations in foraging behaviour and flexibility in activity budgets as mechanisms that enable guillemots to manage their energy expenditure and survive the annual cycle.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-62842-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7138806PMC
April 2020

Physiological, health, lactation, and reproductive traits of cooled dairy cows classified as having high or low core body temperature during the dry period1.

J Anim Sci 2019 Dec;97(12):4792-4802

Department of Animal Sciences and Industry, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS.

Primary objectives of this study were to compare concentrations of pregnancy-associated glycoprotein (PAG) before calving, prolactin (PRL) after calving, and energy balance indicators before and after calving in cooled cows classified as having high (HT) or low (LT) core body temperature (CBT) during the dry period. Secondary objectives were to investigate associations between dry-period CBT and likelihood of cows developing health disorders, and compare health, productive and reproductive traits of HT and LT cows. Dry Holstein cows (n = 260) with 250 to 260 d of gestation from three herds were enrolled in the study during summer. Cows were provided evaporative cooling during the dry and lactating period. The vaginal temperature was recorded in 5-min intervals during 7 consecutive days and cows were classified as HT or LT. Blood samples were collected weekly from enrollment until 14 ± 3 d in milk (DIM). Additional blood samples were collected within 12 h postpartum from a subgroup of cows (n = 25) to determine PRL concentration. Cows were monitored for health disorders, productive, and reproductive performance until 13 wk of the subsequent lactation. High temperature cows had shorter (P < 0.01) gestation length (273.9 ± 0.9 vs. 278.2 ± 0.9 d) and greater (P < 0.01) incidence of twinning (19.7 vs. 4.2%) than LT cows. Cows classified as HT had greater (P = 0.02) PAG concentration (134.1 ± 4.9 vs. 117.4 ± 4.9 ng/mL), but postpartum PRL concentration did not (P = 0.55) differ between HT and LT cows. Primiparous HT cows had greater (P = 0.05) prepartum nonesterified fatty acids concentration (135, 95% CI = 102 to 178 vs. 104, 95% CI = 75 to 144 mmol/dL) than primiparous LT cows, but no differences (P = 0.72) were observed between CBT group in multiparous cows. The concentration of β-hydroxybutyrate was greater (P = 0.04) for LT compared with HT cows at 7 ± 3 DIM. The quadratic effect of CBT tended (P = 0.09) to be associated with risk of health disorders within 60 DIM. Milk yield tended (P = 0.10) to be greater for LT compared with HT cows (49.3 ± 1.9 vs. 46.2 ± 1.6 kg). Pregnancy per AI at first service did not (P = 0.64) differ between HT and LT cows. In conclusion, HT cows have distinct concentrations of PAG in late gestation and energy balance indicators during the transition period. In addition, CBT assessment during the dry period may be a useful tool to identify cows expected to have impaired health and milk yield in the subsequent lactation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jas/skz345DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6915218PMC
December 2019

Altering rat sexual behavior to teach hormonal regulation of brain imprinting.

Adv Physiol Educ 2019 Dec;43(4):458-466

Division of Animal Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri.

In this teaching laboratory, students design and perform an experiment to determine estrogen's role in imprinting the brain of neonatal rats to express either male or female sexual behavior. A discussion question is provided before the laboratory exercise in which each student is asked to search the literature and provide written answers to questions and to formulate an experiment to test the role of estrogen in imprinting the mating behavior of male and female rats. Students discuss their answers to the questions in laboratory with the instructor and design an experiment to test their hypothesis. In male rats, testosterone is converted by aromatase expressed by neurons in the brain to estrogen. Production of estrogen in the brain of neonatal rats imprints mating behavior in males, where a lack of estrogen action in the brain imprints female sexual behavior. The model involves administering exogenous testosterone to imprint male behavior in female pups or administration of an aromatase inhibitor (letrozole) or an estrogen receptor antagonist (ICI 182,780) to imprint female sexual behavior in male pups. In the model, litters of neonatal pups are treated with either carrier (control), testosterone propionate, aromatase inhibitor (letrozole), or an estrogen receptor antagonist (ICI 182,780) postnatally on and . Alteration of mating behavior is evaluated through the numbers of males and females that breed and establish pregnancy. This is a very simple protocol that provides an excellent experiment for student discussion on the effects of hormone action on imprinting brain sexual behavior.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/advan.00081.2019DOI Listing
December 2019

Impacts of "supermoon" events on the physiology of a wild bird.

Ecol Evol 2019 Jul 25;9(14):7974-7984. Epub 2019 Jun 25.

School of Biosciences The University of Birmingham Birmingham UK.

The position of the Moon in relation to the Earth and the Sun gives rise to several predictable cycles, and natural changes in nighttime light intensity are known to cause alterations to physiological processes and behaviors in many animals. The limited research undertaken to date on the physiological responses of animals to the lunar illumination has exclusively focused on the synodic lunar cycle (full moon to full moon, or moon phase) but the moon's orbit-its distance from the Earth-may also be relevant. Every month, the moon moves from , its most distant point from Earth-and then to its closest point to Earth. Here, we studied wild barnacle geese () to investigate the influence of multiple interacting lunar cycles on the physiology of diurnally active animals. Our study, which uses biologging technology to continually monitor body temperature and heart rate for an entire annual cycle, asks whether there is evidence for a physiological response to natural cycles in lunar brightness in wild birds, particularly "supermoon" phenomena, where perigee coincides with a full moon. There was a three-way interaction between lunar phase, lunar distance, and cloud cover as predictors of nighttime mean body temperature, such that body temperature was highest on clear nights when the full moon coincided with perigee moon. Our study is the first to report the physiological responses of wild birds to "supermoon" events; the wild geese responded to the combination of two independent lunar cycles, by significantly increasing their body temperature at night. That wild birds respond to natural fluctuations in nighttime ambient light levels support the documented responses of many species to anthropogenic sources of artificial light, that birds seem unable to override. As most biological systems are arguably organized foremost by light, this suggests that any interactions between lunar cycles and local weather conditions could have significant impacts on the energy budgets of birds.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ece3.5311DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6662397PMC
July 2019

Pharmacologic treatment with CPI-613 and PS48 decreases mitochondrial membrane potential and increases quantity of autolysosomes in porcine fibroblasts.

Sci Rep 2019 07 1;9(1):9417. Epub 2019 Jul 1.

Department of Animal Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, United States.

A metabolic phenomenon known as the Warburg effect has been characterized in certain cancerous cells, embryonic stem cells, and other rapidly proliferative cell types. Previously, our attempts to induce a Warburg-like state pharmaceutically via CPI-613 and PS48 treatment did augment metabolite production and gene expression; however, this treatment demonstrated a Reverse Warburg effect phenotype observed in cancer-associated stroma. In the current study, we inquired whether the mitochondria were affected by the aforementioned pharmaceutical treatment as observed in cancerous stromal fibroblasts. While the pharmaceutical agents decreased mitochondrial membrane potential in porcine fetal fibroblasts, the number and size of mitochondria were similar, as was the overall cell size. Moreover, the fibroblasts that were treated with CPI-613 and PS48 for a week had increased numbers of large autolysosome vesicles. This coincided with increased intensity of LysoTracker staining in treated cells as observed by flow cytometry. Treated fibroblasts thus may utilize changes in metabolism and autophagy to mitigate the damage of treatment with pharmaceutical agents. These findings shed light on how these pharmaceutical agents interact and how treated cells augment metabolism to sustain viability.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-45850-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6603033PMC
July 2019

Sublethal effects of natural parasitism act through maternal, but not paternal, reproductive success in a wild population.

Ecology 2019 08 10;100(8):e02772. Epub 2019 Jul 10.

Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Bush Estate, Penicuik, Midlothian, EH26 0QB, United Kingdom.

Parasites are a major component of all animal populations. Males and females often differ in their levels of parasite prevalence, potentially leading to sex differences in the impact of parasitism on fitness, with important implications for the evolution of parasite and host traits including resistance, tolerance, and virulence. However, quantitative measures of the impact of parasitism under free-living conditions are extremely rare, as they require detailed host demographic data with measures of parasite burden over time. Here, we use endoscopy for direct quantification of natural-parasite burdens and relate these to reproductive success over 7 yr in a wild population of seabirds. Contrary to predictions, only female burdens were associated with negative impacts of parasitism on breeding success, despite males having significantly higher burdens. Female reproductive success declined by 30% across the range of natural parasite burdens. These effects persisted when accounting for interannual population differences in breeding success. Our results provide quantitative estimates of profound sub-lethal effects of parasitism on the population. Importantly, they highlight how parasites act unpredictably to shape ecological and evolutionary processes in different components of the same population, with implications for demography and selection on host and parasite traits.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ecy.2772DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6851849PMC
August 2019

Environmental heterogeneity decreases reproductive success via effects on foraging behaviour.

Proc Biol Sci 2019 06 5;286(1904):20190795. Epub 2019 Jun 5.

1 School of Environmental Sciences, University of Liverpool , Liverpool , UK.

Environmental heterogeneity shapes the uneven distribution of resources available to foragers, and is ubiquitous in nature. Optimal foraging theory predicts that an animal's ability to exploit resource patches is key to foraging success. However, the potential fitness costs and benefits of foraging in a heterogeneous environment are difficult to measure empirically. Heterogeneity may provide higher-quality foraging opportunities, or alternatively could increase the cost of resource acquisition because of reduced patch density or increased competition. Here, we study the influence of physical environmental heterogeneity on behaviour and reproductive success of black-legged kittiwakes, Rissa tridactyla. From GPS tracking data at 15 colonies throughout their British and Irish range, we found that environments that were physically more heterogeneous were associated with longer trip duration, more time spent foraging while away from the colony, increased overlap of foraging areas between individuals and lower breeding success. These results suggest that there is greater competition between individuals for finite resources in more heterogeneous environments, which comes at a cost to reproduction. Resource hotspots are often considered beneficial, as individuals can learn to exploit them if sufficiently predictable. However, we demonstrate here that such fitness gains can be countered by greater competition in more heterogeneous environments.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2019.0795DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6571457PMC
June 2019

Bovine pregnancy associated glycoproteins can alter selected transcripts in bovine endometrial explants.

Theriogenology 2019 Jun 1;131:123-132. Epub 2019 Apr 1.

Division of Animal Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, USA. Electronic address:

This study was designed to examine changes in target transcript abundance in endometrial explants exposed to pregnancy-associated glycoproteins (PAGs). Endometrial explants from pregnant and non-pregnant heifers collected on day18 (day 0: day of insemination) were incubated in the absence or presence of PAGs (15 μg/ml). The PAGs represented a mixture comprised of approximately equal amounts of bovine PAGs 4, 6, and 9. Samples were harvested for RNA extraction after 24 h or 96 h of incubation. Transcript abundance for target genes related to prostaglandin synthesis (PTGES), a chemokine (CXCL5) and tissue remodeling (EMMPRIN; MMPs 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, and 9; PLAU; SPP1; TIMP1 and TIMP2) were analyzed by quantitative PCR. Changes in relative transcript abundance for MMP1, MMP3, MMP7, PLAU, EMMPRIN and SPP1 were observed after PAG exposure in both non-pregnant and pregnant endometrium (P < 0.05). However, some of the transcripts associated with tissue remodeling were altered only at certain time points (either 24 h or 96 h). The transcript for bovine CXCL5 was increased in non-pregnant endometrium four- and six-fold at 24 h and 96 h of PAG exposure, respectively (P < 0.05); in pregnant endometrium, only the 24 h incubation period exhibited an elevation in CXCL5 (P < 0.05). In non-pregnant endometrium, both PTGES and MMP9 were elevated after exposure to PAGs for 24 h (P < 0.05) but not in the other samples. Some interferon-responsive transcripts (IFI6, ISG15) were found to be more abundant (P < 0.05) in pregnant endometrium after 96 h exposure to PAGs compared to endometrium that had not been exposed to the PAGs. Likewise, ISG15 message was elevated (P = 0.06) in non-pregnant endometrium after 24 h incubation with PAGs. These results indicate that the PAGs used in this experiment were able to induce changes in endometrial transcripts encoding for proteins associated with matrix remodeling as well as chemokine production and prostaglandin release.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.theriogenology.2019.03.026DOI Listing
June 2019

Improvement of in vitro and early in utero porcine clone development after somatic donor cells are cultured under hypoxia.

Mol Reprod Dev 2019 05 19;86(5):558-565. Epub 2019 Feb 19.

Department of Animal Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri.

Genetically engineered pigs serve as excellent biomedical and agricultural models. To date, the most reliable way to generate genetically engineered pigs is via somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), however, the efficiency of cloning in pigs is low (1-3%). Somatic cells such as fibroblasts frequently used in nuclear transfer utilize the tricarboxylic acid cycle and mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation for efficient energy production. The metabolism of somatic cells contrasts with cells within the early embryo, which predominately use glycolysis. We hypothesized that fibroblast cells could become blastomere-like if mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation was inhibited by hypoxia and that this would result in improved in vitro embryonic development after SCNT. In a previous study, we demonstrated that fibroblasts cultured under hypoxic conditions had changes in gene expression consistent with increased glycolytic/gluconeogenic metabolism. The goal of this pilot study was to determine if subsequent in vitro embryo development is impacted by cloning porcine embryonic fibroblasts cultured in hypoxia. Here we demonstrate that in vitro measures such as early cleavage, blastocyst development, and blastocyst cell number are improved (4.4%, 5.5%, and 17.6 cells, respectively) when donor cells are cultured in hypoxia before nuclear transfer. Survival probability was increased in clones from hypoxic cultured donors compared to controls (8.5 vs. 4.0 ± 0.2). These results suggest that the clones from donor cells cultured in hypoxia are more developmentally competent and this may be due to improved nuclear reprogramming during somatic cell nuclear transfer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mrd.23132DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6510642PMC
May 2019

Utility of time-lapse photography in studies of seabird ecology.

PLoS One 2018 12;13(12):e0208995. Epub 2018 Dec 12.

School of Environmental Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, United Kingdom.

Marine ecosystems are heavily influenced by a wide range of human-related impacts, and thus monitoring is essential to preserve and manage these sensitive habitats. Seabirds are considered important bioindicators of the oceans, but accessing breeding populations can be difficult, expensive and time consuming. New technologies have been employed to facilitate data collection on seabirds that can reduce costs and minimize disturbance. Among these, the use of time-lapse photography is a potentially effective way to reduce researcher effort, while collecting valuable information on key ecological parameters. However, the feasibility of this approach remains uncertain. Here, we assessed the use of time-lapse photography as a tool for estimating foraging behaviour from breeding seabirds, and evaluate ways forward for this method. We deployed cameras in front of active nests at a colony of black-legged kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla) during two breeding seasons, 5 nests in 2013 and 5 in 2014, taking pictures every 4 minutes. A subsample of monitored individuals were also equipped with accelerometers. Approximately 100,000 frames, covering incubation and chick-rearing periods, were analysed. Estimates of foraging trip duration from images were positively correlated with accelerometry estimates (R2 = 0.967). Equal partitioning of effort between pairs, predation events, nest attendance patterns and variation in trip metrics with breeding stage were also identified. Our results suggest that time-lapse photography is potentially a useful tool for assessing foraging trip duration and other fine-scale nesting ecology parameters as well as for assessing the effect of bio-logging devices on seabird foraging behaviour. Nevertheless, the time investment to manually extract data from images was high, and the process to set up cameras was not straightforward. To encourage wide use of time-lapse photography in seabird ecology, we thus provide guidelines for camera deployment and we suggest a need for further development of automated approaches to allow data extraction.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0208995PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6291154PMC
May 2019

Flight feather moult drives minimum daily heart rate in wild geese.

Biol Lett 2018 11 28;14(11). Epub 2018 Nov 28.

School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston B15 2TT, UK.

Waterfowl undergo an annual simultaneous flight-feather moult that renders them flightless for the duration of the regrowth of the flight feathers. In the wild, this period of flightlessness could restrict the capacity of moulting birds to forage and escape predation. Selection might therefore favour a short moult, but feather growth is constrained and presumably energetically demanding. We therefore tested the hypothesis that for birds that undergo a simultaneous flight-feather moult, this would be the period in the annual cycle with the highest minimum daily heart rates, reflecting these increased energetic demands. Implantable heart rate data loggers were used to record year-round heart rate in six wild barnacle geese (), a species that undergoes a simultaneous flight-feather moult. The mean minimum daily heart rate was calculated for each individual bird over an 11-month period, and the annual cycle was divided into seasons based on the life-history of the birds. Mean minimum daily heart rate varied significantly between seasons and was significantly elevated during wing moult, to 200 ± 32 beats min, compared to all other seasons of the annual cycle, including both the spring and autumn migrations. The increase in minimum daily heart rate during moult is likely due to feather synthesis, thermoregulation and the reallocation of minerals and protein.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2018.0650DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6283923PMC
November 2018

The role of parasitism in the energy management of a free-ranging bird.

J Exp Biol 2018 12 12;221(Pt 24). Epub 2018 Dec 12.

School of Environmental Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 3GP, UK.

Parasites often prompt sub-lethal costs to their hosts by eliciting immune responses. These costs can be hard to quantify but are crucial to our understanding of the host's ecology. Energy is a fundamental currency to quantify these costs, as energetic trade-offs often exist between key fitness-related processes. Daily energy expenditure (DEE) comprises of resting metabolic rate (RMR) and energy available for activity, which are linked via the energy management strategy of an organism. Parasitism may play a role in the balance between self-maintenance and activity, as immune costs can be expressed in elevated RMR. Therefore, understanding energy use in the presence of parasitism enables mechanistic elucidation of potential parasite costs. Using a gradient of natural parasite load and proxies for RMR and DEE in a wild population of breeding European shags (), we tested the effect of parasitism on maintenance costs as well as the relationship between proxies for RMR and DEE. We found a positive relationship between parasite load and our RMR proxy in females but not males, and no relationship between proxies for RMR and DEE. This provides evidence for increased maintenance costs in individuals with higher parasite loads and suggests the use of an allocation energy management strategy, whereby an increase to RMR creates restrictions on energy allocation to other activities. This is likely to have fitness consequences as energy allocated to immunity is traded off against reproduction. Our findings demonstrate that understanding energy management strategies alongside fitness drivers is central to understanding the mechanisms by which these drivers influence individual fitness.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1242/jeb.190066DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6307876PMC
December 2018

Porcine Fetal-Derived Fibroblasts Alter Gene Expression and Mitochondria to Compensate for Hypoxic Stress During Culture.

Cell Reprogram 2018 08;20(4):225-235

1 Department of Animal Sciences, University of Missouri , Columbia, Missouri.

The Warburg effect is characterized by decreased mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation and increased glycolytic flux in adequate oxygen. The preimplantation embryo has been described to have characteristics of the Warburg effect, including similar changes in gene expression and mitochondria, which are more rudimentary in appearance. We hypothesized hypoxia would facilitate anaerobic glycolysis in fibroblasts thereby promoting gene expression and media metabolite production reflecting the Warburg effect hallmarks in early embryos. Additionally, we speculated that hypoxia would induce a rudimentary small mitochondrial phenotype observed in several cell types evidenced to demonstrate the Warburg effect. While many have examined the role hypoxia plays in pathological conditions, few studies have investigated changes in primary cells which could be used in somatic cell nuclear transfer. We found that cells grown in 1.25% O had normal cell viability and more, but smaller mitochondria. Several hypoxia-inducible genes were identified, including seven genes for glycolytic enzymes. In conditioned media from hypoxic cells, the quantities of gluconolactone, cytosine, and uric acid were decreased indicating higher consumption than control cells. These results indicate that fibroblasts alter gene expression and mitochondria to compensate for hypoxic stress and maintain viability. Furthermore, the metabolic changes observed, making them more similar to preimplantation embryos, could be facilitating nuclear reprogramming making these cells more amendable to future use in somatic cell nuclear transfer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/cell.2018.0008DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6088251PMC
August 2018

Evidence of sociality in the timing and location of foraging in a colonial seabird.

Biol Lett 2018 07;14(7)

School of Environmental Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 3GP, UK.

Social foraging behaviours, which range from cooperative hunting to local enhancement, can result in increased prey capture and access to information, which may significantly reduce time and energy costs of acquiring prey. In colonial species, it has been proposed that the colony itself may act as a site of social information transfer and group formation. However, conclusive evidence from empirical studies is lacking. In particular, most studies in colonial species have generally focussed on behaviours either at the colony or at foraging sites in isolation, and have failed to directly connect social associations at the colony to social foraging. In this study, we simultaneously tracked 85% of a population of Australasian gannets () over multiple foraging trips, to study social associations at the colony and test whether these associations influence the location of foraging sites. We found that gannets positively associate with conspecifics while departing from the colony and that co-departing gannets have more similar initial foraging patches than individuals that did not associate at the colony. These results provide strong evidence for the theory that the colony may provide a source of information that influences foraging location.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2018.0214DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6083229PMC
July 2018

A model to estimate seabird field metabolic rates.

Biol Lett 2018 06;14(6)

School of Environmental Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 3GP, UK.

For free-ranging animals, field metabolic rate (FMR) is the sum of their energy expenditure over a specified period. This quantity is a key component of ecological processes at every biological level. We applied a phylogenetically informed meta-analytical approach to identify the large-scale determinants of FMR in seabirds during the breeding season. Using data from 64 studies of energetics in 47 species, we created a model to estimate FMR for any seabird population. We found that FMR was positively influenced by body mass and colony latitude and that it increased throughout the breeding season from incubation to brood to crèche. FMR was not impacted by colony-relative predation pressure or species average brood size. Based on this model, we present an app through which users can generate estimates of FMR for any population of breeding seabird. We encourage the use of this app to complement behavioural studies and increase understanding of how energetic demands influence the role of seabirds as driving components of marine systems.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2018.0190DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6030596PMC
June 2018

The energetic cost of parasitism in a wild population.

Proc Biol Sci 2018 05;285(1879)

School of Environmental Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 3GP, UK.

Parasites have profound fitness effects on their hosts, yet these are often sub-lethal, making them difficult to understand and quantify. A principal sub-lethal mechanism that reduces fitness is parasite-induced increase in energetic costs of specific behaviours, potentially resulting in changes to time and energy budgets. However, quantifying the influence of parasites on these costs has not been undertaken in free-living animals. We used accelerometers to estimate energy expenditure on flying, diving and resting, in relation to a natural gradient of endo-parasite loads in a wild population of European shags We found that flight costs were 10% higher in adult females with higher parasite loads and these individuals spent 44% less time flying than females with lower parasite loads. There was no evidence for an effect of parasite load on daily energy expenditure, suggesting the existence of an energy ceiling, with the increase in cost of flight compensated for by a reduction in flight duration. These behaviour specific costs of parasitism will have knock-on effects on reproductive success, if constraints on foraging behaviour detrimentally affect provisioning of young. The findings emphasize the importance of natural parasite loads in shaping the ecology and life-history of their hosts, which can have significant population level consequences.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2018.0489DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5998108PMC
May 2018

Pharmacologic Reprogramming Designed to Induce a Warburg Effect in Porcine Fetal Fibroblasts Alters Gene Expression and Quantities of Metabolites from Conditioned Media Without Increased Cell Proliferation.

Cell Reprogram 2018 02;20(1):38-48

1 Department of Animal Sciences, University of Missouri , Columbia, Missouri.

The Warburg effect is a metabolic phenomenon characterized by increased glycolytic activity, decreased mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation, and the production of lactate. This metabolic phenotype is characterized in rapidly proliferative cell types such as cancerous cells and embryonic stem cells. We hypothesized that a Warburg-like metabolism could be achieved in other cell types by treatment with pharmacological agents, which might, in turn, facilitate nuclear reprogramming. The aim of this study was to treat fibroblasts with CPI-613 and PS48 to induce a Warburg-like metabolic state. We demonstrate that treatment with both drugs altered the expression of 69 genes and changed the level of 21 metabolites in conditioned culture media, but did not induce higher proliferation compared to the control treatment. These results support a role for the reverse Warburg effect, whereby cancer cells induce cancer-associated fibroblast cells in the surrounding stroma to exhibit the metabolically characterized Warburg effect. Cancer-associated fibroblasts then produce and secrete metabolites such as pyruvate to supply the cancerous cells, thereby supporting tumor growth and metastasis. While anticipating an increase in the production of lactate and increased cellular proliferation, both hallmarks of the Warburg effect, we instead observed increased secretion of pyruvate without changes in proliferation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/cell.2017.0040DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5804098PMC
February 2018

Pharmacologic treatment of donor cells induced to have a Warburg effect-like metabolism does not alter embryonic development in vitro or survival during early gestation when used in somatic cell nuclear transfer in pigs.

Mol Reprod Dev 2018 04 5;85(4):290-302. Epub 2018 Mar 5.

Division of Animal Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri.

Somatic cell nuclear transfer is a valuable technique for the generation of genetically engineered animals, however, the efficiency of cloning in mammalian species is low (1-3%). Differentiated somatic cells commonly used in nuclear transfer utilize the tricarboxylic acid cycle and cellular respiration for energy production. Comparatively the metabolism of somatic cells contrasts that of the cells within the early embryos which predominately use glycolysis. Early embryos (prior to implantation) are evidenced to exhibit characteristics of a Warburg Effect (WE)-like metabolism. We hypothesized that pharmacologically driven fibroblast cells can become more blastomere-like and result in improved in vitro embryonic development after SCNT. The goals were to determine if subsequent in vitro embryo development is impacted by (1) cloning pharmacologically treated donor cells pushed to have a WE-like metabolism or (2) culturing non-treated donor clones with pharmaceuticals used to push a WE-like metabolism. Additionally, we investigated early gestational survival of the donor-treated clone embryos. Here we demonstrate that in vitro development of clones is not hindered by pharmacologically treating either the donor cells or the embryos themselves with CPI, PS48, or the combination of these drugs. Furthermore, these experiments demonstrate that early embryos (or at least in vitro produced embryos) have a low proportion of mitochondria which have high membrane potential and treatment with these pharmaceuticals does not further alter the mitochondrial function in early embryos. Lastly, we show that survival in early gestation was not different between clones from pharmacologically induced WE-like donor cells and controls.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mrd.22964DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5903921PMC
April 2018

Utilizing a rat delayed implantation model to teach integrative endocrinology and reproductive biology.

Adv Physiol Educ 2018 Mar;42(1):56-63

Division of Animal Sciences, University of Missouri , Columbia, Missouri.

In this teaching laboratory, the students are directed in an exercise that involves designing and performing an experiment to determine estrogen's role in regulating delayed implantation (diapause) in female rats. To encourage active participation by the students, a discussion question is provided before the laboratory exercise in which each student is asked to search the literature and provide written answers to questions and to formulate an experiment to test the role of ovarian estrogen in inducing implantation in female rats. One week before the laboratory exercise, students discuss their answers to the questions with the instructor to develop an experiment to test their hypothesis that estrogen is involved with inducing implantation in the rat. A rat delayed implantation model was established that utilizes an estrogen receptor antagonist (ICI 182,780), which inhibits the action of ovarian estrogens. Groups of mated females are treated with either carrier (control) or ICI 182,780 (ICI) every other day, starting on day 2 postcoitus (pc) until day 8 pc. One-half of the females receiving ICI are injected with estradiol-17β on day 8 pc to induce implantation 4 days after the controls. If the ICI-treated females are not administered estradiol, embryo implantation occurs spontaneously ~4 days after the last ICI injection on day 8. This is a very simple protocol that is very effective and provides an excellent experiment for student discussion on hormone action and the use of agonists and antagonists.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/advan.00076.2017DOI Listing
March 2018

The ability to predict pregnancy loss in cattle with ELISAs that detect pregnancy associated glycoproteins is antibody dependent.

Theriogenology 2018 Mar 14;108:269-276. Epub 2017 Dec 14.

Division of Animal Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, USA. Electronic address:

The concentration of circulating pregnancy associated glycoproteins (PAGs) early in pregnancy may serve as markers to predict late embryonic mortality or fetal mortality in cattle. In this study, pregnancies were established in dairy cows, by either fixed-time AI (FTAI) or fixed-time embryo transfer (FTET) with in vitro produced embryos. Circulating PAGs were measured with different combinations of antibodies in either a laboratory-based ELISA or a commercial ELISA. For the in-house ELISA, three monoclonal 'trapping' antibodies (A6, J2, and L4) and two polyclonal 'detection' antisera (antibodies F2 or 45) were used to quantify PAGs in serum from the same cows. The different assays were identified as follows: 'Mix-45' (A6, J2, and L4 with 45), 'Mix-F2' (A6, J2, and L4 with F2), and 'L4-F2': (L4 with F2); the commercial assay was from IDEXX. Ovulation was synchronized and FTAI or FTET was performed on day 0 or 7, respectively. Ultrasound-based diagnosis of pregnancy and serum collections occurred on day 30. The proportion of cows that subsequently experienced pregnancy loss between days 30 and 60 was 23% (43 of 183) and 16% (21 of 131) for the FTAI or FTET groups, respectively. In the FTAI group, mean serum concentration of PAGs detected with Mix-45 was higher in cows that maintained pregnancy (9.2 ± 0.4 ng/ml; mean ± SEM) compared with cows that experienced pregnancy failure (3.9 ± 0.6 ng/ml) between day 30-60 (P < .001). However, there was no difference (P > .69) in circulating concentrations of PAGs between cows that experienced loss or survival between days 30 and 60 when Mix-F2 or L4-F2 were used in an in-house ELISA. Likewise, a commercial assay also did not result in measurable differences in PAG concentrations between those animals that experienced loss or survival. Following FTET, circulating concentrations of PAGs on day 30 were lower (P < .001) in cows that experienced pregnancy failure compared to cows that maintained pregnancy when the Mix-45 and the commercial assay were used, but not with the other antibody combinations. A receiver operating characteristic curve showed that only the Mix-45 antibody combination was predictive (95% accuracy) of pregnancy loss but not the other antibody combinations following FTAI. However, both Mix-45 and the commercial assay were predictive of losses following FTET. In summary, although multiple PAG assay formats have been shown to accurately detect pregnancy, the ability to predict embryo survival during early gestation appears to be antibody dependent.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.theriogenology.2017.12.021DOI Listing
March 2018

Breeding density, fine-scale tracking, and large-scale modeling reveal the regional distribution of four seabird species.

Ecol Appl 2017 10 29;27(7):2074-2091. Epub 2017 Aug 29.

RSPB Centre for Conservation Science, The Lodge, Sandy, SG19 2DL, United Kingdom.

Population-level estimates of species' distributions can reveal fundamental ecological processes and facilitate conservation. However, these may be difficult to obtain for mobile species, especially colonial central-place foragers (CCPFs; e.g., bats, corvids, social insects), because it is often impractical to determine the provenance of individuals observed beyond breeding sites. Moreover, some CCPFs, especially in the marine realm (e.g., pinnipeds, turtles, and seabirds) are difficult to observe because they range tens to ten thousands of kilometers from their colonies. It is hypothesized that the distribution of CCPFs depends largely on habitat availability and intraspecific competition. Modeling these effects may therefore allow distributions to be estimated from samples of individual spatial usage. Such data can be obtained for an increasing number of species using tracking technology. However, techniques for estimating population-level distributions using the telemetry data are poorly developed. This is of concern because many marine CCPFs, such as seabirds, are threatened by anthropogenic activities. Here, we aim to estimate the distribution at sea of four seabird species, foraging from approximately 5,500 breeding sites in Britain and Ireland. To do so, we GPS-tracked a sample of 230 European Shags Phalacrocorax aristotelis, 464 Black-legged Kittiwakes Rissa tridactyla, 178 Common Murres Uria aalge, and 281 Razorbills Alca torda from 13, 20, 12, and 14 colonies, respectively. Using Poisson point process habitat use models, we show that distribution at sea is dependent on (1) density-dependent competition among sympatric conspecifics (all species) and parapatric conspecifics (Kittiwakes and Murres); (2) habitat accessibility and coastal geometry, such that birds travel further from colonies with limited access to the sea; and (3) regional habitat availability. Using these models, we predict space use by birds from unobserved colonies and thereby map the distribution at sea of each species at both the colony and regional level. Space use by all four species' British breeding populations is concentrated in the coastal waters of Scotland, highlighting the need for robust conservation measures in this area. The techniques we present are applicable to any CCPF.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/eap.1591DOI Listing
October 2017

Circulating microRNA as candidates for early embryonic viability in cattle.

Mol Reprod Dev 2017 Aug;84(8):731-743

Division of Animal Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri.

Blood-borne extracellular vesicles (i.e., exosomes and microvesicles) carrying microRNAs (miRNAs) could make excellent biomarkers of disease and different physiologic states, including pregnancy status. We tested the hypothesis that circulating extracellular vesicle-derived miRNAs might differentiate the pregnancy status of cows that had maintained pregnancy to Day 30 from non-pregnant cows or from those that exhibited embryonic mortality between Days 17 and 30 of gestation. Cows were randomly assigned for artificial insemination with fertile semen (n = 36) or dead semen (n = 8; control group) on Day 0 (day of estrus). Blood was collected from all animals on Day 0 and on Days 17 and 24 after artificial insemination. Cows receiving live sperm were retrospectively classified as pregnant on Day 30 (n = 17) or exhibiting embryonic mortality between Days 17 and 30 (n = 19). Extracellular vesicles from Day 17 and 24 samples were isolated from serum using ultra-centrifugation, and their presence was confirmed by nanoparticle tracking and Western blot analyses (for CD81) prior to RNA extraction. MicroRNA sequencing was performed on pregnant, embryonic-mortality, and control cows (n = 4 per day), for a total of 24 independent reactions. In total, 214 miRNAs were identified in serum, 40 of which were novel. Based on differential abundance parameters, we identified 32 differentially abundant loci, representing 27 differentially abundant mature miRNA. At Days 17 and 24, specific miRNAs (e.g., miR-25, -16b, and -3596) were identified that differentiated the pregnancy status. In summary, we identified several circulating extracellular vesicles derived miRNAs that differ in abundance between embryonic mortality and pregnant cows.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mrd.22856DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5580359PMC
August 2017
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