Publications by authors named "Matteo Girardi"

8 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

A pilot study of eDNA metabarcoding to estimate plant biodiversity by an alpine glacier core (Adamello glacier, North Italy).

Sci Rep 2021 01 13;11(1):1208. Epub 2021 Jan 13.

Research and Innovation Centre, Fondazione Edmund Mach, San Michele All'Adige, TN, Italy.

Current biodiversity loss is a major concern and thus biodiversity assessment of modern ecosystems is compelling and needs to be contextualized on a longer timescale. High Throughput Sequencing (HTS) is progressively becoming a major source of data on biodiversity time series. In this multi proxy study, we tested, for the first time, the potential of HTS to estimate plant biodiversity archived in the surface layers of a temperate alpine glacier, amplifying the trnL barcode for vascular plants from eDNA of firn samples. A 573 cm long core was drilled by the Adamello glacier and cut into sections; produced samples were analyzed for physical properties, stable isotope ratio, and plant biodiversity by eDNA metabarcoding and conventional light microscopy analysis. Results highlighted the presence of pollen and plant remains within the distinct layers of snow, firn and ice. While stable isotope ratio showed a scarcely informative pattern, DNA metabarcoding described distinct plant species composition among the different samples, with a broad taxonomic representation of the biodiversity of the catchment area and a high-ranking resolution. New knowledge on climate and plant biodiversity changes of large catchment areas can be obtained by this novel approach, relevant for future estimates of climate change effects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-79738-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7807053PMC
January 2021

Geographical Distribution of Ljungan Virus in Small Mammals in Europe.

Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis 2020 09 2;20(9):692-702. Epub 2020 Jun 2.

Sezione Zoologia dei Vertebrati, MUSE-Museo delle Scienze, Trento, Italy.

Ljungan virus (LV), which belongs to the genus in the family, was first isolated from bank voles () in Sweden in 1998 and proposed as a zoonotic agent. To improve knowledge of the host association and geographical distribution of LV, tissues from 1685 animals belonging to multiple rodent and insectivore species from 12 European countries were screened for LV-RNA using reverse transcriptase (RT)-PCR. In addition, we investigated how the prevalence of LV-RNA in bank voles is associated with various intrinsic and extrinsic factors. We show that LV is widespread geographically, having been detected in at least one host species in nine European countries. Twelve out of 21 species screened were LV-RNA PCR positive, including, for the first time, the red vole () and the root or tundra vole ( formerly ), as well as in insectivores, including the bicolored white-toothed shrew () and the Valais shrew (). Results indicated that bank voles are the main rodent host for this virus (overall RT-PCR prevalence: 15.2%). Linear modeling of intrinsic and extrinsic factors that could impact LV prevalence showed a concave-down relationship between body mass and LV occurrence, so that subadults had the highest LV positivity, but LV in older animals was less prevalent. Also, LV prevalence was higher in autumn and lower in spring, and the amount of precipitation recorded during the 6 months preceding the trapping date was negatively correlated with the presence of the virus. Phylogenetic analysis on the 185 base pair species-specific sequence of the 5' untranslated region identified high genetic diversity (46.5%) between 80 haplotypes, although no geographical or host-specific patterns of diversity were detected.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/vbz.2019.2542DOI Listing
September 2020

Survival and divergence in a small group: The extraordinary genomic history of the endangered Apennine brown bear stragglers.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2017 11 24;114(45):E9589-E9597. Epub 2017 Oct 24.

Department of Life Sciences and Biotechnology, University of Ferrara, 44121 Ferrara, Italy;

About 100 km east of Rome, in the central Apennine Mountains, a critically endangered population of ∼50 brown bears live in complete isolation. Mating outside this population is prevented by several 100 km of bear-free territories. We exploited this natural experiment to better understand the gene and genomic consequences of surviving at extremely small population size. We found that brown bear populations in Europe lost connectivity since Neolithic times, when farming communities expanded and forest burning was used for land clearance. In central Italy, this resulted in a 40-fold population decline. The overall genomic impact of this decline included the complete loss of variation in the mitochondrial genome and along long stretches of the nuclear genome. Several private and deleterious amino acid changes were fixed by random drift; predicted effects include energy deficit, muscle weakness, anomalies in cranial and skeletal development, and reduced aggressiveness. Despite this extreme loss of diversity, Apennine bear genomes show nonrandom peaks of high variation, possibly maintained by balancing selection, at genomic regions significantly enriched for genes associated with immune and olfactory systems. Challenging the paradigm of increased extinction risk in small populations, we suggest that random fixation of deleterious alleles () can be an important driver of divergence in isolation, () can be tolerated when balancing selection prevents random loss of variation at important genes, and () is followed by or results directly in favorable behavioral changes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1707279114DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5692547PMC
November 2017

Tick-borne pathogens and their reservoir hosts in northern Italy.

Ticks Tick Borne Dis 2018 02 1;9(2):164-170. Epub 2017 Sep 1.

Department of Biodiversity and Molecular Ecology, Research and Innovation Centre, Fondazione Edmund Mach, San Michele all´Adige, Trento, Italy. Electronic address:

The aim of this study was to determine the occurrence of Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Rickettsia spp., Babesia spp., and Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis in Ixodes spp. ticks removed from wildlife, domestic animals and humans in the Province of Trento (northern Italy) in order to better understand their ecology and provide public health professionals with an updated list of pathogens which should be considered during their diagnostic procedures after a tick bite. During 2011-2012, 848 feeding ticks at all life stages (adults, nymphs and larvae) from various hosts (wild ungulates, birds and rodents; domestic sheep, dogs and humans) were collected. The highest prevalences of A. phagocytophilum and Rickettsia spp. were detected in adult and nymphal tick stages feeding on wild ungulates (11.4% prevalence for both pathogens), while the Babesia spp. prevailed in nymphal and larval ticks feeding on wild birds (7.7%). A wide spectrum of tick-borne agents was present in larval ticks: those detached from wild ungulates were positive for A. phagocytophilum, B. venatorum, R. helvetica, R. monacensis and R. raoultii, while those removed from wild rodents were positive for B. venatorum, R. helvetica, R. monacensis and Ca. N. mikurensis, and ticks from wild birds carried A. phagocytophilum, B. venatorum, B. capreoli and R. helvetica. This study provides evidence of circulation of five tick-borne pathogens not reported in this region before, specifically R. raoultii, R. monacensis, B. venatorum, B. capreoli and B. microti. Furthermore, it discusses the epidemiological role of the animal species from which the ticks were collected highlighting the needs for more experimental studies especially for those pathogens where transovarial transmission in ticks has been demonstrated.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ttbdis.2017.08.012DOI Listing
February 2018

New Evidences of Mitochondrial DNA Heteroplasmy by Putative Paternal Leakage between the Rock Partridge (Alectoris graeca) and the Chukar Partridge (Alectoris chukar).

PLoS One 2017 23;12(1):e0170507. Epub 2017 Jan 23.

Department of Chemistry, Biology and Biotechnologies, University of Perugia, Perugia, Italy.

The rock partridge, Alectoris graeca, is a polytypic species declining in Italy mostly due to anthropogenic causes, including the massive releases of the closely related allochthonous chukar partridge Alectoris chukar which produced the formation of hybrids. Molecular approaches are fundamental for the identification of evolutionary units in the perspective of conservation and management, and to correctly select individuals to be used in restocking campaigns. We analyzed a Cytochrome oxidase I (COI) fragment of contemporary and historical A. graeca and A. chukar samples, using duplicated analyses to confirm results and nuclear DNA microsatellites to exclude possible sample cross-contamination. In two contemporary specimens of A. graeca, collected from an anthropogenic hybrid zone, we found evidence of the presence of mtDNA heteroplasmy possibly associated to paternal leakage and suggesting hybridization with captive-bred exotic A. chukar. These results underline significant limitations in the reliability of mtDNA barcoding-based species identification and could have relevant evolutionary and ecological implications that should be accounted for when interpreting data aimed to support conservation actions.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0170507PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5256862PMC
August 2017

Detection of a new insect flavivirus and isolation of Aedes flavivirus in Northern Italy.

Parasit Vectors 2012 Oct 8;5:223. Epub 2012 Oct 8.

Wetland Ecology Department, Doñana Biological Station, CSIC, Sevilla, Spain.

Background: During recent years, numerous novel 'insect flaviviruses' have been discovered in natural mosquito populations. In a previous study we described the presence of flavivirus DNA sequences integrated in Aedes albopictus (Asian tiger mosquito) populations from Northern Italy in 2007.

Methods: During 2008 we collected and tested Aedes females for flavivirus presence and developed phylogenetic analysis, virus isolation, electron microscopy studies and RNAse treatments.

Results: We detected a high prevalence of flavivirus in Ae. albopictus (77.5%). The phylogenetic analysis identified the insect flavivirus sequences as Aedes flavivirus (AEFV) recently described in Japan, and that may have been introduced in Italy travelling with the tiger mosquito. Some of these pools grew in C6/36 cells, producing cytopathic effects, and the RNase treatment results showed the presence of the detected sequences in RNA forms. Furthermore, we detected a new insect flavivirus in one pool of Aedes cinereus/geminus mosquitoes. Phylogenetic analysis of this virus shows that it forms a distinct cluster within the clade of insect flavivirus.

Conclusions: This is the first study to report a high prevalence, to describe the seasonal activity and an isolation of the insect flavivirus Aedes flavivirus in Europe. Moreover we describe the detection of a new insect flavivirus detected from Ae. cinereus mosquitoes from Italy. These flavivirus may be common, ubiquitous and diverse in nature and we discuss the implications of the insect flavivirus group in virus evolution and transmission.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1756-3305-5-223DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3481474PMC
October 2012

A 28,000 years old Cro-Magnon mtDNA sequence differs from all potentially contaminating modern sequences.

PLoS One 2008 Jul 16;3(7):e2700. Epub 2008 Jul 16.

Dipartimento di Biologia Evoluzionistica, Università di Firenze, Firenze, Italy.

Background: DNA sequences from ancient specimens may in fact result from undetected contamination of the ancient specimens by modern DNA, and the problem is particularly challenging in studies of human fossils. Doubts on the authenticity of the available sequences have so far hampered genetic comparisons between anatomically archaic (Neandertal) and early modern (Cro-Magnoid) Europeans.

Methodology/principal Findings: We typed the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) hypervariable region I in a 28,000 years old Cro-Magnoid individual from the Paglicci cave, in Italy (Paglicci 23) and in all the people who had contact with the sample since its discovery in 2003. The Paglicci 23 sequence, determined through the analysis of 152 clones, is the Cambridge reference sequence, and cannot possibly reflect contamination because it differs from all potentially contaminating modern sequences.

Conclusions/significance: The Paglicci 23 individual carried a mtDNA sequence that is still common in Europe, and which radically differs from those of the almost contemporary Neandertals, demonstrating a genealogical continuity across 28,000 years, from Cro-Magnoid to modern Europeans. Because all potential sources of modern DNA contamination are known, the Paglicci 23 sample will offer a unique opportunity to get insight for the first time into the nuclear genes of early modern Europeans.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0002700PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2444030PMC
July 2008
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