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1.  Old divergences in a boreal bird supports long-term survival through the Ice Ages 
Unlike northern Europe and most of northern North America, the Eastern Palearctic and the northwesternmost tip of North America are believed to have been almost unglaciated during the Quarternary glacial periods. This could have facilitated long-term survival of many organisms in that area. To evaluate this, we studied the phylogeography in east Asia and Alaska of a boreal migratory passerine bird, the Arctic Warbler Phylloscopus borealis, and compared our results with published data on especially North American species.
In a sample of 113 individuals from 18 populations we identified 42 haplotypes of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene, which separated into three clades: A - Alaska and mainland Eurasia (except Kamchatka); B - Kamchatka, Sakhalin and Hokkaido; and C - Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu (i.e. Japan except Hokkaido). The oldest split among these clades, between A/B and C, is estimated to have taken place sometime between the mid Pliocene and early Pleistocene, and the second divergence, between clades A and B, in the early to mid Pleistocene. Within all of the three main clades, there are signs of population expansion.
The Arctic Warbler separated into three main clades in close succession around the Pliocene/Pleistocene border, with the two northern clades diverging last. All three clades probably experienced population bottlenecks during the Pleistocene as a result of range shifts and contractions, but nevertheless survived and maintained their integrities. Several other clades of Northeastern Palearctic birds are noted to have diversified during the Pliocene. In contrast, avian species or phylogroups presently occupying formerly glaciated North American ground are generally younger. The differences between these regions could be due to slower speciation rates in the Eastern Palearctic due to less fragmentation of forest habitats during glacial periods, or to longer survival of Eastern Palearctic clades as a result of less severe conditions in that region compared to northern North America. Several other Palearctic organisms show concordant biogeographical patterns to that of the Arctic Warbler, indicating common causes of their diversifications.
PMCID: PMC2848155  PMID: 20128930
2.  Invasive Crayfish Threaten the Development of Submerged Macrophytes in Lake Restoration 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e78579.
Submerged macrophytes enhance water transparency and aquatic biodiversity in shallow water ecosystems. Therefore, the return of submerged macrophytes is the target of many lake restoration projects. However, at present, north-western European aquatic ecosystems are increasingly invaded by omnivorous exotic crayfish. We hypothesize that invasive crayfish pose a novel constraint on the regeneration of submerged macrophytes in restored lakes and may jeopardize restoration efforts. We experimentally investigated whether the invasive crayfish (Procambarus clarkii Girard) affects submerged macrophyte development in a Dutch peat lake where these crayfish are expanding rapidly. Seemingly favourable abiotic conditions for macrophyte growth existed in two 0.5 ha lake enclosures, which provided shelter and reduced turbidity, and in one lake enclosure iron was added to reduce internal nutrient loading, but macrophytes did not emerge. We transplanted three submerged macrophyte species in a full factorial exclosure experiment, where we separated the effect of crayfish from large vertebrates using different mesh sizes combined with a caging treatment stocked with crayfish only. The three transplanted macrophytes grew rapidly when protected from grazing in both lake enclosures, demonstrating that abiotic conditions for growth were suitable. Crayfish strongly reduced biomass and survival of all three macrophyte species while waterfowl and fish had no additive effects. Gut contents showed that crayfish were mostly carnivorous, but also consumed macrophytes. We show that P. clarkii strongly inhibit macrophyte development once favourable abiotic conditions for macrophyte growth are restored. Therefore, expansion of invasive crayfish poses a novel threat to the restoration of shallow water bodies in north-western Europe. Prevention of introduction and spread of crayfish is urgent, as management of invasive crayfish populations is very difficult.
PMCID: PMC3813481  PMID: 24205271
3.  New zoonotic cases of Onchocerca dewittei japonica (Nematoda: Onchocercidae) in Honshu, Japan 
Parasites & Vectors  2015;8:59.
Zoonotic infections with Onchocerca species are uncommon, and to date only 25 clinical cases have been reported worldwide. In Japan, five previous zoonotic infections were concentrated in Oita, Kyushu (the southern island), with one previous case in Hiroshima in the western part of Honshu (the main island). The causative agent in Japan was identified as Onchocerca dewittei japonica Uni, Bain & Takaoka, 2001 from Japanese wild boars (Sus scrofa leucomystax Temminck, 1842). Here we report two infections caused by a female and male O. dewittei japonica, respectively, among residents of Hiroshima and Shimane Prefectures in the western part of Honshu.
In both cases, nodules were surgically removed. The parasites in nodules were identified on the basis of their histopathological characteristics. Identification was confirmed by sequencing the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 (cox1) gene from worms in the tissues used in the histological preparations.
Case 1 was a 61-year-old woman from Hiroshima Prefecture who complained of a painful subcutaneous nodule on the back of her right hand. The causative agent was identified as a female O. dewittei japonica owing to transverse ridges on the cuticle and molecular analysis. Case 2 was a 78-year-old woman from Shimane Prefecture who had a painful nodule in the left temporal region. Histopathological characteristics and cox1 sequencing of the worm indicated that the causative agent was a male O. dewittei japonica.
For Cases 1 and 2, we diagnosed the causative agents as a female and male O. dewittei japonica, respectively. These findings indicate the spread of a zoonosis caused by O. dewittei japonica in the western part of Honshu, where wild boars have recently extended their habitats because of decreased annual snowfall, unused rice fields and a decline in the number of hunters in Japan. The O. dewittei japonica infection rate among wild boars was reported as 78% in Shimane Prefecture, in the western part of Honshu. Therefore, in the near future, zoonotic onchocercosis is likely to occur in Honshu as well as Kyushu, where wild boars, blackfly vectors and humans share the same habitat.
PMCID: PMC4323255  PMID: 25623081
Filarioid; Global warming; Japanese wild boar; Onchocerca dewittei japonica; Vector-borne disease; Zoonosis
4.  Geographical Distribution of the Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 BgKL Variant in Japan Suggests Gradual Dispersion of the Virus from Shikoku Island to the Other Islands 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2006;44(6):2109-2118.
Restriction endonuclease fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) is useful for the epidemiological study of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). We report here the identification of a major BglII RFLP variant of HSV-1, designated BgKL, found in 27.0% of 636 HSV-1 clinical isolates. We have also established its geographic distribution in Japan. BgKL has an unusually large BglII K fragment. SalI cleavage analyses showed that 97% of BgKL variant isolates lack both the SalI C-J and the F-J cleavage sites and have an unusually large SalI D or E fragment, and 91% of the BgKL variants lack both SalI G and H fragments. Furthermore, 96% of BgKL isolates have an unusually small KpnI M fragment. Therefore, BgKL is a marker for these five mutations in most HSV-1 isolates and is a useful HSV-1 RFLP marker. The BgKL variant was found in 59% of HSV-1 isolates from Shikoku Island, 44% of HSV-1 isolates from the Chugoku region of Honshu Island, 31% of HSV-1 isolates from Kyushu Island, 0% of HSV-1 isolates from Okinawa Island, 49% of HSV-1 isolates from Osaka, 27% of HSV-1 isolates from Shiga, 13% of HSV-1 isolates from the Chubu Region, and 9% of HSV-1 isolates from the Tohoku Region of Honshu Island. Differences in the frequency of BgKL between the Shikoku-Chugoku-Osaka area (49%) and Kyushu, between Kyushu and Okinawa, between the Shikoku-Chugoku-Osaka area and Shiga, and between Shiga and Tohoku are all statistically significant. The BgKL frequency decreases in a geographical gradient suggest that this HSV-1 variant was dispersed from Shikoku to the surrounding regions and then to more distant regions. The BgKL frequency in Tokyo was similar to the nationwide average. These are the first data to suggest a geographic and demographic dispersion pattern of HSV-1. Implications for the epidemiology and diversification of HSV-1 are discussed.
PMCID: PMC1489417  PMID: 16757606
5.  Host resistance does not explain variation in incidence of male-killing bacteria in Drosophila bifasciata 
Selfish genetic elements that distort the sex ratio are found widely. Notwithstanding the number of records of sex ratio distorters, their incidence is poorly understood. Two factors can prevent a sex ratio distorter from invading: inability of the sex ratio distorter to function (failure of mechanism or transmission), and lack of drive if they do function (inappropriate ecology for invasion). There has been no test to date on factors causing variation in the incidence of sex ratio distorting cytoplasmic bacteria. We therefore examined whether absence of the male-killing Wolbachia infection in D. bifasciata in Hokkaido island of Japan, in contrast to the presence of infection on the proximal island of Honshu, was associated with failure of the infection to function properly on the Hokkaido genetic background.
The male-killer both transmitted and functioned well following introgression to each of 24 independent isofemale inbred lines carrying Hokkaido genetic backgrounds. This was maintained even under stringent conditions of temperature. We therefore reject the hypothesis that absence of infection is due to its inability to kill males and transmit on the Hokkaido genetic background. Further trap data indicates that D. bifasciata may occur at different densities in Hokkaido and Honshu populations, giving some credence to the idea that ecological differentiation could be important.
The absence of the infection from the Hokkaido population is not caused by failure of the male-killer to function on the Hokkaido genetic background.
PMCID: PMC535909  PMID: 15571631
6.  Population-Level Metrics of Trophic Structure Based on Stable Isotopes and Their Application to Invasion Ecology 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e31757.
Biological invasions are a significant driver of human-induced global change and many ecosystems sustain sympatric invaders. Interactions occurring among these invaders have important implications for ecosystem structure and functioning, yet they are poorly understood. Here we apply newly developed metrics derived from stable isotope data to provide quantitative measures of trophic diversity within populations or species. We then use these to test the hypothesis that sympatric invaders belonging to the same functional feeding group occupy a smaller isotopic niche than their allopatric counterparts. Two introduced, globally important, benthic omnivores, Louisiana swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii) and carp (Cyprinus carpio), are sympatric in Lake Naivasha, Kenya. We applied our metrics to an 8-year data set encompassing the establishment of carp in the lake. We found a strong asymmetric interaction between the two invasive populations, as indicated by inverse correlations between carp abundance and measures of crayfish trophic diversity. Lack of isotopic niche overlap between carp and crayfish in the majority of years indicated a predominantly indirect interaction. We suggest that carp-induced habitat alteration reduced the diversity of crayfish prey, resulting in a reduction in the dietary niche of crayfish. Stable isotopes provide an integrated signal of diet over space and time, offering an appropriate scale for the study of population niches, but few isotope studies have retained the often insightful information revealed by variability among individuals in isotope values. Our population metrics incorporate such variation, are robust to the vagaries of sample size and are a useful additional tool to reveal subtle dietary interactions among species. Although we have demonstrated their applicability specifically using a detailed temporal dataset of species invasion in a lake, they have a wide array of potential ecological applications.
PMCID: PMC3283663  PMID: 22363724
7.  Lanthanum from a Modified Clay Used in Eutrophication Control Is Bioavailable to the Marbled Crayfish (Procambarus fallax f. virginalis) 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e102410.
To mitigate eutrophication in fresh standing waters the focus is on phosphorus (P) control, i.e. on P inflows to a lake as well as a lake's sediment as internal P source. The in-lake application of the lanthanum (La) modified clays – i.e. La modified bentonite (Phoslock) or La modified kaolinite, aim at dephosphatising the water column and at reducing the release of P from a lake's sediment. Application of these clays raises the question whether La from these clays can become bioavailable to biota. We investigated the bioavailability of La from Phoslock in a controlled parallel groups experiment in which we measured the La in carapace, gills, ovaries, hepatopancreas and abdominal muscle after 0, 14 and 28 days of exposure to Phoslock. Expressing the treatment effect as the difference of the median concentration between the two treatment groups (Phoslock minus control group) yield the following effects, the plus sign (+) indicating an increase, concentrations in µg g−1 dry weight: Day 14: carapace +10.5 µg g−1, gills +112 µg g−1, ovaries +2.6 µg g−1, hepatopancreas +32.9 µg g−1 and abodminal muscle +3.2 µg g−1. Day 28: carapace +17.9 µg g−1; gills +182 µg g−1; ovaries +2.2 µg g−1; hepatopancreas +41.9 µg g−1 and abodminal muscle +7.6 µg g−1, all effects were statistically significant. As La from Phoslock is bio-available to and taken up by the marbled crayfishes (Procambarus fallax f. virginalis), we advocate that the application of in-lake chemical water treatments to mitigate eutrophication should be accompanied by a thorough study on potential side effects.
PMCID: PMC4113486  PMID: 25068309
8.  Does Autocthonous Primary Production Influence Oviposition by Aedes japonicus japonicus (Diptera: Culicidae) in Container Habitats? 
Journal of medical entomology  2013;50(1):69-78.
Aedes (Finlaya) japonicus japonicus (Theobald) (Diptera: Culicidae) is recently invasive in North America and has expanded its range rapidly since 1998. Throughout its native and expanded range, Ae. j. japonicus larvae are commonly observed in many types of natural and artificial water-filled containers that vary in organic matter content and exposure to sunlight. Larvae are most often found in containers with decaying leaf material or algae, and we postulated that the added autocthonous primary production from algae could be both an important food source for larvae and an influential oviposition attractant to adult Ae. j. japonicus. We tested this hypothesis by placing plastic containers with varied levels of shading to manipulate algal density in the field, and then monitored oviposition by natural populations of Ae. j. japonicus. Over 99% of larvae hatching from eggs laid on the walls of our containers were Ae. j. japonicus, indicating that this species is a dominant colonizer of artificial containers in the study areas. Although full shading treatments effectively reduced algal biomass (significant reduction in chlorophyll a levels), at only one of three sites did this appear to affect Ae. j. japonicus oviposition. We conclude that algae in larval habitats are not a major factor in oviposition choices of adult Ae. j. japonicus females except when in situ primary production is high enough to substantially alter overall organic matter content cues.
PMCID: PMC4106285  PMID: 23427654
Aedes japonicus japonicus; algae; oviposition; container habitat
9.  Prevalence of the Crayfish Plague Pathogen Aphanomyces astaci in Populations of the Signal Crayfish Pacifastacus leniusculus in France: Evaluating the Threat to Native Crayfish 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e70157.
Aphanomyces astaci, the crayfish plague pathogen, first appeared in Europe in the mid-19th century and is still responsible for mass mortalities of native European crayfish. The spread of this parasite across the continent is especially facilitated by invasive North American crayfish species that serve as its reservoir. In France, multiple cases of native crayfish mortalities have been suggested to be connected with the presence of the signal crayfish Pacifastacus leniusculus, which is highly abundant in the country. It shares similar habitats as the native white-clawed crayfish Austropotamobius pallipes and, when infected, the signal crayfish might therefore easily transmit the pathogen to the native species. We investigated the prevalence of A. astaci in French signal crayfish populations to evaluate the danger they represent to local populations of native crayfish. Over 500 individuals of Pacifastacus leniusculus from 45 French populations were analysed, plus several additional individuals of other non-indigenous crayfish species Orconectes limosus, O. immunis and Procambarus clarkii. Altogether, 20% of analysed signal crayfish tested positive for Aphanomyces astaci, and the pathogen was detected in more than half of the studied populations. Local prevalence varied significantly, ranging from 0% up to 80%, but wide confidence intervals suggest that the number of populations infected by A. astaci may be even higher than our results show. Analysis of several individuals of other introduced species revealed infections among two of these, O. immunis and P. clarkii. Our results confirm that the widespread signal crayfish serves as a key reservoir of Aphanomyces astaci in France and therefore represents a serious danger to native crayfish species, especially the white-clawed crayfish. The prevalence in other non-indigenous crayfish should also be investigated as they likely contribute to pathogen transmission in the country.
PMCID: PMC3720925  PMID: 23894606
10.  Macrogenomic Evidence for the Origin of the Black Fly Simulium suzukii (Diptera: Simuliidae) on Okinawa Island, Japan 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e70765.
To determine the geographic origin of the black fly Simulium suzukii on Okinawa Island, Japan, macrogenomic profiles derived from its polytene chromosomes were compared with those of mainland and other insular populations of S. suzukii and of the isomorphic Simulium tani species complex. The Okinawan population is a chromosomally unique cytoform, designated ‘D,’ which is essentially monomorphic and differs by about 27 fixed rearrangements from the chromosomal standard sequence for the subgenus Simulium and by two fixed differences from its nearest known relative, representing the type of S. suzukii, on the main islands of Japan. Chromosomal band sequences revealed two additional, sympatric cytoforms of S. suzukii, designated ‘A’ and ‘B,’ each with species status, in Korea, and a third cytoform, designated ‘C,’ on Hokkaido, Japan. A new cytoform, ‘K,’ of S. tani from Malaysia, representing the type of S. tani, is more closely related to cytoforms in Thailand, as are populations from Taiwan previously treated as S. suzukii but more closely aligned with S. tani and newly recognized as cytoform ‘L’ of the latter nominal species. Rooting of chromosomal band sequences by outgroup comparisons allowed directionality of chromosomal rearrangements to be established, enabling phylogenetic inference of cytoforms. Of 41 macrogenomic rearrangements discovered in the five new cytoforms, four provide evidence for a stepwise origin of the Okinawan population from populations characteristic of the main islands of Japan. The macrogenomic approach applied to black flies on Okinawa Island illustrates its potential utility in defining source areas for other species of flies including those that might pose medical and veterinary risks.
PMCID: PMC3739796  PMID: 23951001
11.  Adult Mortality Attributable to Preventable Risk Factors for Non-Communicable Diseases and Injuries in Japan: A Comparative Risk Assessment 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(1):e1001160.
Using a combination of published data and modeling, Nayu Ikeda and colleagues identify tobacco smoking and high blood pressure as major risk factors for death from noncommunicable diseases among adults in Japan.
The population of Japan has achieved the longest life expectancy in the world. To further improve population health, consistent and comparative evidence on mortality attributable to preventable risk factors is necessary for setting priorities for health policies and programs. Although several past studies have quantified the impact of individual risk factors in Japan, to our knowledge no study has assessed and compared the effects of multiple modifiable risk factors for non-communicable diseases and injuries using a standard framework. We estimated the effects of 16 risk factors on cause-specific deaths and life expectancy in Japan.
Methods and Findings
We obtained data on risk factor exposures from the National Health and Nutrition Survey and epidemiological studies, data on the number of cause-specific deaths from vital records adjusted for ill-defined codes, and data on relative risks from epidemiological studies and meta-analyses. We applied a comparative risk assessment framework to estimate effects of excess risks on deaths and life expectancy at age 40 y. In 2007, tobacco smoking and high blood pressure accounted for 129,000 deaths (95% CI: 115,000–154,000) and 104,000 deaths (95% CI: 86,000–119,000), respectively, followed by physical inactivity (52,000 deaths, 95% CI: 47,000–58,000), high blood glucose (34,000 deaths, 95% CI: 26,000–43,000), high dietary salt intake (34,000 deaths, 95% CI: 27,000–39,000), and alcohol use (31,000 deaths, 95% CI: 28,000–35,000). In recent decades, cancer mortality attributable to tobacco smoking has increased in the elderly, while stroke mortality attributable to high blood pressure has declined. Life expectancy at age 40 y in 2007 would have been extended by 1.4 y for both sexes (men, 95% CI: 1.3–1.6; women, 95% CI: 1.2–1.7) if exposures to multiple cardiovascular risk factors had been reduced to their optimal levels as determined by a theoretical-minimum-risk exposure distribution.
Tobacco smoking and high blood pressure are the two major risk factors for adult mortality from non-communicable diseases and injuries in Japan. There is a large potential population health gain if multiple risk factors are jointly controlled.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Worldwide, a small number of modifiable risk factors are responsible for many premature or preventable deaths. For example, having high blood pressure (hypertension) increases a person's risk of developing life-threatening heart problems and stroke (cardiovascular disease). Similarly, having a high blood sugar level increases the risk of developing diabetes, a chronic (long-term) disease that can lead to cardiovascular problems and kidney failure, and half of all long-term tobacco smokers in Western populations will die prematurely from diseases related to smoking, such as lung cancer. Importantly, the five major risk factors for death globally—high blood pressure, tobacco use, high blood sugar, physical inactivity, and overweight and obesity—are all modifiable. That is, lifestyle changes and dietary changes such as exercising more, reducing salt intake, and increasing fruit and vegetable intake can reduce an individual's exposure to these risk factors and one's chances of premature death. Moreover, public health programs designed to reduce a population's exposure to modifiable risk factors should reduce preventable deaths in that population.
Why Was This Study Done?
In 2000, the Japanese government initiated Health Japan 21, a ten-year national health promotion campaign designed to prevent premature death from non-communicable (noninfectious) diseases and injuries. This campaign set 59 goals to monitor and improve risk factor management in the Japanese population, which has one of the longest life expectancies at birth in the world (the life expectancy of a person born in Japan in 2009 was 83.1 years). Because the campaign's final evaluation revealed deterioration or no improvement on some of these goals, the Japanese government recently released new guidelines that stress the importance of simultaneously controlling multiple risk factors for chronic diseases. However, although several studies have quantified the impacts on life expectancy and cause-specific death of individual modifiable risk factors in Japan, the effects of multiple risk factors have not been assessed. In this study, the researchers use a “comparative risk assessment” framework to estimate the effects of 16 risk factors on cause-specific deaths and life expectancy in Japan. Comparative risk assessment estimates the number of deaths that would be prevented if current distributions of risk factor exposures were changed to hypothetical optimal distributions.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers obtained data on exposure to the selected risk factors from the 2007 Japanese National Health and Nutrition Survey and from epidemiological studies, and information on the number of deaths in 2007 from different diseases from official records. They used published studies to estimate how much each factor increases the risk of death from each disease and then used a mathematical formula to estimate the effects of the risk factors on the number of deaths in Japan and on life expectancy at age 40. In 2007, tobacco smoking and high blood pressure accounted for 129,000 and 104,000 deaths, respectively, in Japan. Physical inactivity accounted for 52,000 deaths, high blood glucose and high dietary salt intake accounted for 34,000 deaths each, and alcohol use for 31,000 deaths. Life expectancy at age 40 in 2007 would have been extended by 1.4 years for both sexes, the researchers estimate, if exposure to multiple cardiovascular risk factors had been reduced to calculated optimal distributions, or by 0.7 years if these risk factors had been reduced to the distributions defined by national guidelines and goals.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings identify tobacco smoking and high blood pressure as the major risk factors for death from non-communicable diseases among adults in Japan, a result consistent with previous findings from the US. They also indicate that simultaneous control of multiple risk factors has great potential for producing health gains among the Japanese population. Although the researchers focused on estimating the effect of these risk factors on mortality and did not include illness and disability in this study, these findings nevertheless identify two areas of public health policy that need to be strengthened to improve health, reduce death rates, and increase life expectancy among the Japanese population. First, they highlight the need to reduce tobacco smoking, particularly among men. Second and most importantly, these findings emphasize the need to improve ongoing programs designed to help people manage multiple cardiovascular risk factors, including high blood pressure.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on all aspects of healthy living
The World Health Report 2002—Reducing Risks, Promoting Healthy Life provides a global analysis of how healthy life expectancy could be increased
The American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society provide information on many important risk factors for noncommunicable diseases and include some personal stories about keeping healthy
Details about Health Japan 21 are provided by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. Further details about this campaign are available from the World Health Organization
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources on healthy living and on healthy aging (in English and Spanish)
PMCID: PMC3265534  PMID: 22291576
12.  Biogeographical Consequences of Cenozoic Tectonic Events within East Asian Margins: A Case Study of Hynobius Biogeography 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e21506.
Few studies have explored the role of Cenozoic tectonic evolution in shaping patterns and processes of extant animal distributions within East Asian margins. We select Hynobius salamanders (Amphibia: Hynobiidae) as a model to examine biogeographical consequences of Cenozoic tectonic events within East Asian margins. First, we use GenBank molecular data to reconstruct phylogenetic interrelationships of Hynobius by Bayesian and maximum likelihood analyses. Second, we estimate the divergence time using the Bayesian relaxed clock approach and infer dispersal/vicariance histories under the ‘dispersal–extinction–cladogenesis’ model. Finally, we test whether evolutionary history and biogeographical processes of Hynobius should coincide with the predictions of two major hypotheses (the ‘vicariance’/‘out of southwestern Japan’ hypothesis). The resulting phylogeny confirmed Hynobius as a monophyletic group, which could be divided into nine major clades associated with six geographical areas. Our results show that: (1) the most recent common ancestor of Hynobius was distributed in southwestern Japan and Hokkaido Island, (2) a sister taxon relationship between Hynobius retardatus and all remaining species was the results of a vicariance event between Hokkaido Island and southwestern Japan in the Middle Eocene, (3) ancestral Hynobius in southwestern Japan dispersed into the Taiwan Island, central China, ‘Korean Peninsula and northeastern China’ as well as northeastern Honshu during the Late Eocene–Late Miocene. Our findings suggest that Cenozoic tectonic evolution plays an important role in shaping disjunctive distributions of extant Hynobius within East Asian margins.
PMCID: PMC3125272  PMID: 21738684
13.  Lineage admixture during postglacial range expansion is responsible for the increased gene diversity of Kalopanax septemlobus in a recently colonised territory 
Heredity  2011;107(4):338-348.
We aimed to reveal the effects of range expansion and subsequent lineage admixture from separated glacial refugia on genetic diversity of Kalopanax septemlobus in Japan, by combining nuclear microsatellite data and ecological niche modelling. Allelic richness and gene diversity were compared at the population and regional level. We also statistically examined these indices as a function of population accessibility to the last glacial maximum (LGM) palaeodistribution reconstructed by ecological niche modelling to test a simple range expansion scenario from glacial refugia. Genetic diversity was highest in the populations of southern Japan and gradually decreased towards the north. However, an additional centre of genetic diversity, when measured as gene diversity, was found in northern Honshu Island, where distinct lineages were shown to be in contact. Positive effects of population accessibility to the LGM range were detected in both diversity indices at different spatial scales. The combined data support independent postglacial range expansions towards the north from the edge populations on the exposed coastal shelf of Pacific and Sea of Japan in northern Honshu during the LGM, which subsequently resulted in markedly low genetic diversity in the northernmost extant range, Hokkaido. The regional increase in gene diversity in northern Honshu is likely to be the result of postglacial lineage admixture. Relative difference in the spatial scales best relating population genetic diversity with the LGM distribution can be explained by a higher rate of allelic richness diversity loss during range expansions and stronger effects of lineage admixture on gene diversity.
PMCID: PMC3182501  PMID: 21427749
accessibility to palaeodistribution; ecological niche model; exposed coastal landscape; lineage admixture; nuclear microsatellite; postglacial colonisation
14.  Transmission dynamics of hepatitis E among swine: potential impact upon human infection 
Hepatitis E virus (HEV) infection is a zoonosis for which pigs play a role as a reservoir. In Japan, the infection has been enzootic in swine. Clarifying the detailed mechanisms of transmission within farms is required in order to facilitate an understanding of the age-specific patterns of infection, especially just prior to slaughter.
Here we reanalyze a large-scale seroprevalence survey dataset from Japanese pig farms to estimate the force of infection. The forces of infection of swine HEV were estimated to be 3.45 (95% confidence interval: 3.17, 3.75), 2.68 (2.28, 3.14) and 3.11 (2.76, 3.50) [×10-2 per day] in Hokkaido, Honshu and Kyushu, respectively. The estimates with our model assumptions indicated that the average ages at infection ranged from 59.0–67.3 days and that the basic reproduction number, R0, was in the order of 4.02–5.17. Sensitivity analyses of age-specific incidence at different forces of infection revealed that a decline in the force of infection would elevate the age at infection and could increase the number of virus-excreting pigs at the age of 180 days.
Although our estimates imply that more than 95% of pigs are infected before the age of 150 days, the model shows that a decline in the force of infection could increase the risk of pig-to-human transmission. If the force of infection started to decline, it might be necessary to implement radical countermeasures (e.g. separation of uninfected pigs from infected herds beginning from the end of the suckling stage) to minimize the number of virus-positive pigs at the finishing stage.
PMCID: PMC1885244  PMID: 17493260
15.  Where to deliver baits for deworming urban red foxes for Echinococcus multilocularis control: new protocol for micro-habitat modeling of fox denning requirements 
Parasites & Vectors  2014;7(1):357.
Deworming wild foxes by baiting with the anthelmintic praziquantel is being established as a preventive technique against environmental contamination with Echinococcus multilocularis eggs. Improvement of the cost-benefit performance of baiting treatment is required urgently to raise and maintain the efficacy of deworming. We established a spatial model of den site selection by urban red foxes, the definitive host, to specify the optimal micro-habitats for delivering baits in a new modeling approach modified for urban fox populations.
The model was established for two cities (Obihiro and Sapporo) in Hokkaido, Japan, in which a sylvatic cycle of E. multilocularis is maintained. The two cities have different degrees of urbanization. The modeling process was designed to detect the best combination of key environmental factors and spatial scale that foxes pay attention to most (here named ‘heeding range’) when they select den sites. All possible models were generated using logistic regression analysis, with “presence” or “absence” of fox den as the objective variable, and nine landscape categories customized for urban environments as predictor variables to detect the best subset of predictors. This procedure was conducted for each of ten sizes of concentric circles from dens and control points to detect the best circle size. Out of all models generated, the most parsimonious model was selected using Akaike’s Information Criterion (AIC) inspection.
Our models suggest that fox dens in Obihiro are located at the center of a circle with 500 m radius including low percentages of wide roads, narrow roads, and occupied buildings, but high percentages of green covered areas; the dens in Sapporo within 300 m radius with low percentages of wide roads, occupied buildings, but high percentages of riverbeds and green covered areas. The variation of the models suggests the necessity of accumulating models for various types of cities in order to reveal the patterns of the model.
Our denning models indicating suitable sites for delivering baits will improve the cost-benefit performance of the campaign. Our modeling protocol is suitable for the urban landscapes, and for extracting the heeding range when they select the den sites.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1756-3305-7-357) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4262088  PMID: 25095789
Echinococcus multilocularis; Baiting strategy; Cost-benefit performance; Vulpes vulpes; Urban red fox; Den site selection; Key environmental factors; Key spatial scale; Requisite spatial scale; Heeding range
16.  Population Genetic Structure and Post-Establishment Dispersal Patterns of the Red Swamp Crayfish Procambarus Clarkii in China 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e40652.
The red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii) was introduced to China in the early 20th century. It has been spread to almost all forms of fresh water bodies including lakes, rivers and even paddyfields in most provinces of China. To clarify issues such as the initial entry point(s), dispersal pattern, genetic diversity and genetic structure of Procambarus clarkii in China, the genetic structure and diversity of P. clarkii populations at 37 sampling sites (35 from China, one from the USA and one from Japan) were analyzed using both mitochondrial gene sequences (COI and 16S rRNA) and 12 nuclear microsatellites. Multiple tests including phylogenetic analyses, Bayesian assignment and analysis of isolation by distance showed that (i) the population from Japan and those collected from China, particularly from NanJing (BGt and XG) and its some neighboring sites (CJr, NT and NB), have similar genetic composition, (ii) relatively high genetic diversity was detected in Chinese populations, (iii) the P. clarkii populations in China did not experience significant population expansions. Taken together, Nanjing, Jiangsu province is the presumed initial entry point, and human-mediated dispersal and adaptive variation are likely responsible for the observed genetic pattern of P. clarkii in China.
PMCID: PMC3393698  PMID: 22808222
17.  Current status of therapy for breast cancer worldwide and in Japan 
The results of clinical trials conducted in Europe and North America have been incorporated into treatment strategies for breast cancer in Japan. Despite the use of similar treatment regimens, why has mortality from breast cancer been increasing in Japan? Procedures for surgical treatment and sentinel lymph node biopsy in breast cancer do not differ between Japan and Western countries, but the strategies for radiotherapy differ slightly. Hormonal therapy is now selected on the basis of scientific evidence, and similar regimens are used in Japan and Western countries. As for postoperative adjuvant chemotherapy, an anthracycline plus cyclophosphamide and taxane-based regimens are standard treatments in Japan and Western countries. In 2009, however, the results of two large clinical studies designed to determine whether intravenous or oral treatment was superior for postoperative adjuvant chemotherapy were reported in Japan. Both studies showed that relapse-free survival and overall survival (OS) at 5 years after surgery were similar for a combination of cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, and 5-fluorouracil and for tegafur/uracil. Many chemotherapeutic agents that are used to treat recurrent or metastatic breast cancer have not yet been approved in Japan. As for molecular targeted therapy, some agents that target the human epidermal growth factor receptor family have been approved in Japan, whereas angiogenesis inhibitors have not. The results of many clinical trials have been incorporated into clinical practice in Japan, therefore, the outcomes of breast cancer therapy have surpassed those in other countries. Many pivotal clinical trials have been conducted outside Japan. Treatment regimens that have been developed on the basis of these studies might be suitable for the management of breast cancer in Western women, but not for Japanese women because of differences in genetic factors, physique, body mass index, pharmacokinetics, and drug metabolism. Such regimens should be modified on the basis of the characteristics of breast cancer in Japan to develop treatment that is optimally suited for Japanese women. In particular, local studies of pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and optimal dose levels and treatment intervals should be carefully performed. The establishment of treatment regimens optimally suited for Japanese patients with breast cancer could put the brakes on the trend towards increasing mortality from breast cancer in Japan.
PMCID: PMC3095468  PMID: 21603322
Breast cancer; Breast-conservation therapy; Hormonal therapy; Chemotherapy; Molecular targeted therapy
18.  Invasion Biology of Aedes japonicus japonicus (Diptera: Culicidae) 
Aedes japonicus japonicus (Theobald) (Diptera: Culicidae) has recently expanded beyond its native range of Japan and Korea into large parts of North America and Central Europe. Population genetic studies begun immediately after the species was detected in North America revealed genetically distinct introductions that subsequently merged, likely contributing to the successful expansion. Interactions, particularly in the larval stage, with other known disease vectors give this invasive subspecies the potential to influence local disease dynamics. Its successful invasion likely does not involve superior direct competitive abilities, but it is associated with the use of diverse larval habitats and a cold tolerance that allows an expanded seasonal activity range in temperate climates. We predict a continued but slower expansion of Ae. j. japonicus in North America and a continued rapid expansion into other areas as this mosquito will eventually be considered a permanent resident of much of North America, Europe, Asia, and parts of Hawaii.
PMCID: PMC4106299  PMID: 24397520
Aedes japonicus or Ochlerotatus japonicus; invasive mosquitoes; disease vectors; container habitats; mosquito larvae interactions
19.  Recently discovered Aedes japonicus japonicus (Diptera: Culicidae) populations in The Netherlands and northern Germany resulted from a new introduction event and from a split from an existing population 
Parasites & Vectors  2015;8:40.
Originally native to East Asia, Aedes japonicus japonicus, a potential vector of several arboviruses, has become one of the most invasive mosquito species in the world. After having established in the USA, it is now spreading in Europe, with new populations emerging. In contrast to the USA, the introduction pathways and modes of dispersal in Europe are largely obscure.
To find out if two recently detected populations of Ae. j. japonicus in The Netherlands and northern Germany go back to new importations or to movements within Europe, the genetic makeup of mosquito specimens from all known European populations was compared. For this purpose, seven microsatellite loci from a representative number of mosquito specimens were genotyped and part of their mitochondrial nad4 gene sequenced.
A novel nad4 haplotype found in the newly discovered Dutch population of Ae. j. japonicus suggests that this population is not closely related to the other European populations but has emanated from a further introduction event. With five nad4 haplotypes, the Dutch population also shows a very high genetic diversity indicating that either the founder population was very large or multiple introductions took place. By contrast, the recently detected North German population could be clearly assigned to one of the two previously determined European Ae. j. japonicus microsatellite genotypes and shows nad4 haplotypes that are known from West Germany.
As the European populations of Ae. j. japonicus are geographically separated but genetically mixed, their establishment must be attributed to passive transportation. In addition to intercontinental shipment, it can be assumed that human activities are also responsible for medium- and short-distance overland spread. A better understanding of the processes underlying the introduction and spread of this invasive species will help to increase public awareness of the human-mediated displacement of mosquitoes and to find strategies to avoid it.
PMCID: PMC4311435  PMID: 25608763
Aedes japonicus japonicus; Asian bush mosquito; Europe; Microsatellites; Population genetics; nad4 haplotypes
20.  Eelgrass Detritus as a Food Source for the Sea Cucumber Apostichopus japonicus Selenka (Echinidermata: Holothuroidea) in Coastal Waters of North China: An Experimental Study in Flow-Through Systems 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58293.
Eelgrass ecosystems have a wide variety of ecological functions in which living tissues and detritus may be a food source for many marine animals. In this study, we conducted a laboratory simulating experiment to understand the trophic relationship between the eelgrass Zostera marina L and the sea cucumber Apostichopus japonicus. A mixture of decaying eelgrass debris and seafloor surface muddy sediments was used as food to feed A. japonicus, and then specific growth rates (SGR) and fecal production rates (FPR) were measured. According to the proportion of eelgrass debris, we designed five treatment diets, i.e., ES0, ES10, ES20, ES40, and ES100, with eelgrass debris accounting for 0%, 10%, 20%, 40%, and 100% in dry weight, respectively. Results showed that diet composition had a great influence on the growth of A. japonicus. Sea cucumbers could use decaying eelgrass debris as their food source; and when the organic content of a mixture of eelgrass debris and sediment was 19.6% (ES40), a relatively high SGR (1.54%·d−1) and FPR (1.31 g·ind.−1 d−1) of A. japonicus were obtained. It is suggested that eelgrass beds can not only provide habitat for the sea cucumber A. japonicus but can also provide an indirect food source for the deposit feeder. This means that the restoration and reconstruction of eelgrass beds, especially in coastal waters of China, would be a potential and effective measure for sea-cucumber fisheries, in respect to both resource restoration and aquaculture of this valuable species.
PMCID: PMC3591415  PMID: 23505480
21.  Interspecific Larval Competition Between Aedes albopictus and Aedes japonicus (Diptera: Culicidae) in Northern Virginia 
Journal of medical entomology  2008;45(4):629-637.
Aedes albopictus (Skuse) and Aedes japonicus (Theobald) are two of the most recent and widespread invasive mosquito species to have become established in the United States. The two species co-occur in water-filled artificial containers, where crowding and limiting resources are likely to promote inter- or intraspecific larval competition. The performance of northern Virginia populations of Ae. japonicus and Ae. albopictus competing as larvae under field conditions was evaluated. Per capita rates of population increase for each species were estimated, and the effects of species composition and larval density were determined. In water-containing cups provided with oak leaves, Ae. albopictus larvae exhibited a competitive advantage over Ae. japonicus as a consequence of higher survivorship, shorter developmental time, and a significantly higher estimated population growth rate under conditions of interspecific competition. Intraspecific competition constrained population performance of Ae. albopictus significantly more than competition with Ae. japonicus. In the context of the Lotka-Volterra model of competition, these findings suggest competitive exclusion of Ae. japonicus in those habitats where this species co-occurs with Ae. albopictus.
PMCID: PMC2631177  PMID: 18714861
invasive; mosquito; containers; competition
22.  A new focus of Aedes japonicus japonicus (Theobald, 1901) (Diptera, Culicidae) distribution in Western Germany: rapid spread or a further introduction event? 
Parasites & Vectors  2012;5:284.
The Asian bush mosquito, Aedes japonicus japonicus, a potential vector of several viruses, was first detected in Germany in 2008 on the Swiss-German border. In the following years, this invasive species apparently succeeded in establishing populations in southern Germany and in spreading northwards. In 2011, its distribution area already covered large areas of the federal state of Baden-Wurttemberg, and its northernmost German collection point was reported to be close to Stuttgart. Several independent submissions to our laboratories of Ae. j. japonicus specimens in July 2012, originating from the same area in the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia, western Germany, prompted us to carry out an immediate surveillance in this region in the expectation of finding a further distribution focus of Ae. j. japonicus in Germany.
After inspecting the places of residence of the collectors of the submitted mosquito specimens, all kinds of water containers in 123 cemeteries in surrounding towns and villages were checked for mosquito developmental stages. These were collected and kept to produce adults for morphological species identification. One specimen per collection site was identified genetically by COI sequence analysis.
Aedes j. japonicus adults and immature stages were found in 36 towns/villages that were checked (29%) over an area of approximately 2,000 km2 in southern North Rhine-Westphalia and northern Rhineland Palatinate. The species could not be demonstrated further south when monitoring towards the northernmost previous collection sites in southern Germany. It therefore remains to be elucidated whether the species has entered western Germany from the south, from Belgium in the west where it has been demonstrated to occur locally since 2002, or through a new introduction.
Aedes j. japonicus is obviously much more widely distributed in Germany than previously thought. It appears to be well adapted, to have a strong expansion tendency and to replace indigenous mosquito species. Thus, a further spread is anticipated and elimination seems hardly possible anymore. The vector potency of the species should be reason enough to thoroughly monitor its future development in Germany.
PMCID: PMC3533968  PMID: 23216741
Aedes japonicus japonicus; Cemeteries; Distribution focus; Spread; Western Germany
23.  Chemical defense of an Asian snake reflects local availability of toxic prey and hatchling diet 
Species that sequester toxins from prey for their own defense against predators may exhibit population-level variation in their chemical arsenal that reflects the availability of chemically defended prey in their habitat. Rhabdophis tigrinus is an Asian snake that possesses defensive glands in the skin of its neck (‘nuchal glands’), which typically contain toxic bufadienolide steroids that the snakes sequester from consumed toads. In this study, we compared the chemistry of the nuchal gland fluid of R. tigrinus from toad-rich and toad-free islands in Japan and determined the effect of diet on the nuchal gland constituents. Our findings demonstrate that captive-hatched juveniles from toad-rich Ishima Island that had not been fed toads possess defensive bufadienolides in their nuchal glands, presumably due to maternal provisioning of these sequestered compounds. Wild-caught juveniles from Ishima possess large quantities of bufadienolides, which could result from a combination of maternal provisioning and sequestration of these defensive compounds from consumed toads. Interestingly, juvenile females from Ishima possess larger quantities of bufadienolides than do juvenile males, whereas a small sample of field-collected snakes suggests that adult males contain larger quantities of bufadienolides than do adult females. Captive-born hatchlings from Kinkasan Island lack bufadienolides in their nuchal glands, reflecting the absence of toads on that island, but they can sequester bufadienolides by feeding on toads (Bufo japonicus) in captivity. The presence of large quantities of bufadienolides in the nuchal glands of R. tigrinus from Ishima may reduce the risk of predation by providing an effective chemical defense, whereas snakes on Kinkasan may experience increased predation due to the lack of defensive compounds in their nuchal glands.
PMCID: PMC3708106  PMID: 23853424
Rhabdophis; Bufo; bufadienolides; nuchal glands; dietary toxin sequestration
24.  Analysis of Genetic Variation and Phylogeny of the Predatory Bug, Pilophorus typicus, in Japan using Mitochondrial Gene Sequences 
Pilophorus typicus (Distant) (Heteroptera: Miridae) is a predatory bug occurring in East, Southeast, and South Asia. Because the active stages of P. typicus prey on various agricultural pest insects and mites, this species is a candidate insect as an indigenous natural enemy for use in biological control programs. However, the mass releasing of introduced natural enemies into agricultural fields may incur the risk of affecting the genetic integrity of species through hybridization with a local population. To clarify the genetic characteristics of the Japanese populations of P. typicus two portions of the mitochondrial DNA, the cytochrome oxidase subunit I (COI) (534 bp) and the cytochrome B (cytB) (217 bp) genes, were sequenced for 64 individuals collected from 55 localities in a wide range of Japan. Totals of 18 and 10 haplotypes were identified for the COI and cytB sequences, respectively (25 haplotypes over regions). Phylogenetic analysis using the maximum likelihood method revealed the existence of two genetically distinct groups in P. typicus in Japan. These groups were distributed in different geographic ranges: one occurred mainly from the Pacific coastal areas of the Kii Peninsula, the Shikoku Island, and the Ryukyu Islands; whereas the other occurred from the northern Kyushu district to the Kanto and Hokuriku districts of mainland Japan. However, both haplotypes were found in a single locality of the southern coast of the Shikoku Island. COI phylogeny incorporating other Pilophorus species revealed that these groups were only recently differentiated. Therefore, use of a certain population of P. typicus across its distribution range should be done with caution because genetic hybridization may occur.
PMCID: PMC3281367  PMID: 21526929
biological control; cytochrome B (cytB); cytochrome oxidase subunit I (COI); indigenous natural enemy; phylogenetic analysis
25.  Phylogeographical patterns of a generalist acorn weevil: insight into the biogeographical history of broadleaved deciduous and evergreen forests 
Climatic changes during glacial periods have had a major influence on the recent evolutionary history of living organisms, even in temperate forests on islands, where the land was not covered with ice sheets. We investigated the phylogeographical patterns of the weevil Curculio sikkimensis (Curculionidae), a generalist seed predator of Fagaceae plants living in both deciduous oak and evergreen forests of Japan. Its genetic structure was compared to that of another host-specific seed predator, C. hilgendorfi, inhabiting only evergreen forests.
We examined 921 bp of mitochondrial DNA for 115 individuals collected from 33 populations of C. sikkimensis from 11 plant species of three genera, Quercus, Lithocarpus, and Castanopsis. An analysis of molecular variance revealed that a large proportion (almost 50%, P < 0.001) of the total genetic variance could be explained by differences between two geographical regions, the southwestern and northeastern parts of the main islands of Japan. In contrast, no significant genetic differentiation of the weevil was observed among vegetation types of their utilized host plant species. The phylogeographical patterns of the generalist and the host-specific seed predator exhibited a congruent genetic boundary in the Chugoku-Shikoku region.
Our results suggest that geology and historical environment have contributed to shaping the present genetic structure of C. sikkimensis. The geographical patterns of genetic differentiation in the Chugoku-Shikoku region observed in the two types of Fagaceae-associated Curculio in this study have also been observed in several plant species growing in warm and cool temperate zones of Japan. The occurrence of this common pattern suggests that deciduous oak and evergreen forests of Japan survived together, or adjacent to each other, in small refugia during glacial ages, in the southwestern and northeastern parts of the main islands, although these two types of forests are presently distributed in cool and warm temperate zones of Japan, respectively.
PMCID: PMC2691738  PMID: 19445688

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