Navigation Links
Finding a virus is not all bad news

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.

< p>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 animal's 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 world's leading science journals for new research.


Source:University of Auckland

Related biology news :

1. Finding Cures For Tropical Diseases: Is Open Source An Answer?
2. Fundamental Finding Yields Insight into Stem Cells, Cancer; Opens Door to Drug Discovery
3. Findings have implications for tracking disease, drugs at the molecular level
4. Finding hidden invaders in a Hawaiian rain forest
5. New Finding May Aid Adult Stem Cell Collection
6. Finding rewrites the evolutionary history of the origin of potatoes
7. Finding the minds eye
8. Findings advance use of adult stem cells for replacement bone
9. Finding a better way to make biodiesel
10. Finding paves way for better treatment of autoimmune disease
11. Finding the right mix: A biomaterial blend library
Post Your Comments:

(Date:6/22/2016)... LOS ANGELES , June 22, 2016 ... of identity management and verification solutions, has ... cutting edge software solutions for Visitor Management, ... ® provides products that add functional ... The partnership provides corporations and venues with ...
(Date:6/15/2016)... New York , June 15, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... a new market report titled "Gesture Recognition Market by ... and Forecast, 2016 - 2024". According to the report, ... USD 11.60 billion in 2015 and is estimated ... reach USD 48.56 billion by 2024.  ...
(Date:6/2/2016)... 2016 The Department of Transport Management ... 44 million US Dollar project, for the , ... Personalization, Enrolment, and IT Infrastructure , to ... and implementation of Identity Management Solutions. Numerous renowned international vendors ... Decatur was selected for the most compliant and ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... CLEVELAND , June 27, 2016  Global ... average 4.6 percent through 2020 to $7.2 billion.  ... (food and beverages, cleaning products, biofuel production, animal ... and biotechnology, diagnostics, and biocatalysts). Food and beverages ... gains driven by increasing consumption of products containing ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... ... on what they believe could be a new and helpful biomarker for malignant ... Click here to read it now. , Biomarkers are components in ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 27, 2016 , ... ... operations for Amgen, will join the faculty of the University of North ... adjunct professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at UNC Kenan-Flagler, with a focus on ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... 24, 2016  Regular discussions on a range of subjects ... the two entities said Poloz. Speaking at a ... , he pointed to the country,s inflation target, which ... "In certain areas ... have common economic goals, why not sit down and address ...
Breaking Biology Technology: