The stable carbon and nitrogen isotope composition of animal tissues is commonly used to trace wildlife diets and analyze food chains. Changes in an animal’s isotopic values over time are generally assumed to indicate diet shifts or, less frequently, physiological changes. Although plant isotopic values are known to correlate with climatic seasonality, only a few studies restricted to aquatic environments have investigated whether temporal isotopic varia-tion in consumers may also reflect environmental baselines through trophic propagation. We modeled the monthly variation in carbon and nitrogen isotope values in whole blood of four insectivorous bat species occupying different foraging niches in southern Spain. We found a common pattern of isotopic variation independent of feeding habits, with an overall change as large as or larger than one trophic step. Physiological changes related to reproduction or to fat deposition prior to hibernation had no effect on isotopic variation, but juvenile bats had higher δ13C and δ15N values than adults. Aridity was the factor that best explained isotopic variation: bat blood became enriched in both 13C and 15N after hotter and/or drier periods. Our study is the first to show that consumers in terrestrial ecosystems reflect seasonal environmental dynamics in their isotope values. We highlight the danger of misinterpreting stable isotope data when not accounting for seasonal isotopic baselines in food web studies. Understanding how environmental seasonality is inte-grated in animals’ isotope values will be crucial for developing reliable methods to use stable isotopes as dietary tracers.
Cortical interneurons originating from the medial ganglionic eminence, MGE, are among the most diverse cells within the CNS. Different pools of proliferating progenitor cells are thought to exist in the ventricular zone of the MGE, but whether the underlying subventricular and mantle regions of the MGE are spatially patterned has not yet been addressed. Here, we combined laser-capture microdissection and multiplex RNA-sequencing to map the transcriptome of MGE cells at a spatial resolution of 50 μm.
Distinct groups of progenitor cells showing different stages of interneuron maturation are identified and topographically mapped based on their genome-wide transcriptional pattern. Although proliferating potential decreased rather abruptly outside the ventricular zone, a ventro-lateral gradient of increasing migratory capacity was identified, revealing heterogeneous cell populations within this neurogenic structure.
We demonstrate that spatially resolved RNA-seq is ideally suited for high resolution topographical mapping of genome-wide gene expression in heterogeneous anatomical structures such as the mammalian central nervous system.
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Invasive species can take advantage of resources unexploited by natives (opportunism hypothesis) or they can exploit the same resources but more aggressively or efficiently (competition hypothesis), thus impacting native species. However, invasive species tend to exploit anthropogenic habitats that are inefficiently used by natives such as urban environments. Focusing on the ring-necked parakeet (Psittacula krameri), one of the most invasive birds worldwide, we combined observations of interspecific aggressions, species-specific cavity-nest preferences and the spatial distribution of the native cavity-nesting vertebrate community to determine the invasion process as well as its potential impacts on native species in a Mediterranean city. Our results support the competition hypothesis, suggesting that ring-necked parakeets are outcompeting native species sharing nest-site preferences. Parakeets initiated and won most interspecific aggressions, which were directed towards competitors but also towards predators. This behaviour could explain the spatial arrangement of natives, with most bird species breeding close to parakeets possibly to take advantage of their effective antipredatory behaviour. However, temporal and spatial patterns of segregation suggest that a threatened bat species is negatively affected by parakeets. This demonstrates that common species gain benefits and threatened ones (in this study, a bat and possibly a falcon) lose nest sites due to invaders. Therefore, the conservation status of the native species that pay the costs of competition with invaders should be considered. This scenario of winners and losers may, however, shift towards more losers if the ring-necked parakeet population continues to grow, thus requiring close monitoring and control/eradication programs to avoid further impacts.
Papillomaviruses (PVs) are widespread pathogens. However, the extent of PV infections in bats remains largely unknown. This work represents the first comprehensive study of PVs in Iberian bats. We identified four novel PVs in the mucosa of free-ranging Eptesicus serotinus (EserPV1, EserPV2, and EserPV3) and Rhinolophus ferrumequinum (RferPV1) individuals and analyzed their phylogenetic relationships within the viral family. We further assessed their prevalence in different populations of E. serotinus and its close relative E. isabellinus. Although it is frequent to read that PVs co-evolve with their host, that PVs are highly species-specific, and that PVs do not usually recombine, our results suggest otherwise. First, strict virus–host co-evolution is rejected by the existence of five, distantly related bat PV lineages and by the lack of congruence between bats and bat PVs phylogenies. Second, the ability of EserPV2 and EserPV3 to infect two different bat species (E. serotinus and E. isabellinus) argues against strict host specificity. Finally, the description of a second noncoding region in the RferPV1 genome reinforces the view of an increased susceptibility to recombination in the E2-L2 genomic region. These findings prompt the question of whether the prevailing paradigms regarding PVs evolution should be reconsidered.
bats; papillomavirus; evolution; phylogeny; biodiversity; wildlife
Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) and its receptor GFRα1 are prominently expressed in the olfactory epithelium (OE) and olfactory bulb (OB), but their importance for olfactory system development is completely unknown. We have investigated the consequences of GFRα1 deficiency for mouse olfactory system development and function. In the OE, GFRα1 was expressed in basal precursors, immature olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs), and olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs), but was excluded from mature OSNs. The OE of newborn Gfra1 knock-out mice was thinner and contained fewer OSNs, but more dividing precursors, suggesting deficient neurogenesis. Immature OSN axon bundles were enlarged and associated OECs increased, indicating impaired migration of OECs and OSN axons. In the OB, GFRα1 was expressed in immature OSN axons and OECs of the nerve layer, as well as mitral and tufted cells, but was excluded from GABAergic interneurons. In newborn knock-outs, the nerve layer was dramatically reduced, exhibiting fewer axons and OECs. Bulbs were smaller and presented fewer and disorganized glomeruli and a significant reduction in mitral cells. Numbers of tyrosine hydroxylase-, calbindin-, and calretinin-expressing interneurons were also reduced in newborn mice lacking GFRa1. At birth, the OE and OB of Gdnf knock-out mice displayed comparable phenotypes. Similar deficits were also found in adult heterozygous Gfra1+/− mutants, which in addition displayed diminished responses in behavioral tests of olfactory function. We conclude that GFRα1 is critical for the development and function of the main olfactory system, contributing to the development and allocation of all major classes of neurons and glial cells.
Despite a commitment by the European Union to protect its migratory bat populations, conservation efforts are hindered by a poor understanding of bat migratory strategies and connectivity between breeding and wintering grounds. Traditional methods like mark-recapture are ineffective to study broad-scale bat migratory patterns. Stable hydrogen isotopes (δD) have been proven useful in establishing spatial migratory connectivity of animal populations. Before applying this tool, the method was calibrated using bat samples of known origin. Here we established the potential of δD as a robust geographical tracer of breeding origins of European bats by measuring δD in hair of five sedentary bat species from 45 locations throughout Europe. The δD of bat hair strongly correlated with well-established spatial isotopic patterns in mean annual precipitation in Europe, and therefore was highly correlated with latitude. We calculated a linear mixed-effects model, with species as random effect, linking δD of bat hair to precipitation δD of the areas of hair growth. This model can be used to predict breeding origins of European migrating bats. We used δ13C and δ15N to discriminate among potential origins of bats, and found that these isotopes can be used as variables to further refine origin predictions. A triple-isotope approach could thereby pinpoint populations or subpopulations that have distinct origins. Our results further corroborated stable isotope analysis as a powerful method to delineate animal migrations in Europe.
Bat coronaviruses (CoV) are putative precursors of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) CoV and other CoV that crossed the species barrier from zoonotic reservoirs into the human population. To determine the presence and distribution of CoV in Iberian bats, 576 individuals of 26 different bat species were captured in 13 locations in Spain. We report for the first time the presence of 14 coronaviruses in 9 Iberian bat species. Phylogenetic analysis of a conserved CoV genome region (RdRp gene) shows a wide diversity and distribution of alpha and betacoronavirus in Spain. Interestingly, although some of these viruses are related to other European BatCoV, or to Asian CoV, some of the viruses found in Spain cluster in new groups of α and β CoV.
To better understand the epidemiology of European bat lyssavirus 1 (EBLV-1) in Europe, we phylogenetically characterized Lyssavirus from Eptesicus isabellinus bats in Spain. An independent cluster of EBLV-1 possibly resulted from geographic isolation and association with a different reservoir from other European strains. EBLV-1 phylogeny is complex and probably associated with host evolutionary history.
Lyssavirus; bats; phylogeny; rabies; EBLV-1; Eptesicus isabellinus; viruses; Spain; dispatch
Ligand-mediated dimerization has emerged as a universal mechanism of growth factor receptor activation. Recent structural studies have shown that neurotrophins interact with dimers of the p75 neurotrophin receptor (p75NTR), but the actual mechanism of receptor activation has remained elusive. Here we show that p75NTR forms disulphide-linked dimers independently of neurotrophin binding through the highly conserved Cys257 in its transmembrane domain. Mutation of Cys257 abolished neurotrophin-dependent receptor activity but did not affect downstream signaling by the p75NTR/NgR/Lingo-1 complex in response to MAG, indicating the existence of distinct, ligand-specific activation mechanisms for p75NTR. FRET experiments revealed a close association of p75NTR intracellular domains that was transiently disrupted by conformational changes induced upon NGF binding. Although mutation of Cys257 did not alter the oligomeric state of p75NTR, the mutant receptor was no longer able to propagate conformational changes to the cytoplasmic domain upon ligand binding. We propose that neurotrophins activate p75NTR by a novel mechanism involving rearrangement of disulphide-linked receptor subunits.
To determine the presence of European bat lyssavirus type 1 in southern Spain, we studied 19 colonies of serotine bats (Eptesicus isabellinus), its main reservoir, during 1998–2003. Viral genome and antibodies were detected in healthy bats, which suggests subclinical infection. The different temporal patterns of circulation found in each colony indicate independent endemic circulation.
lyssavirus; bats; surveillance; rabies; dispatch
Along food chains, i.e., at different trophic levels, the most abundant taxa often represent exceptional food reservoirs, and are hence the main target of consumers and predators. The capacity of an individual consumer to opportunistically switch towards an abundant food source, for instance, a prey that suddenly becomes available in its environment, may offer such strong selective advantages that ecological innovations may appear and spread rapidly. New predator-prey relationships are likely to evolve even faster when a diet switch involves the exploitation of an unsaturated resource for which few or no other species compete. Using stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen as dietary tracers, we provide here strong support to the controversial hypothesis that the giant noctule bat Nyctalus lasiopterus feeds on the wing upon the multitude of flying passerines during their nocturnal migratory journeys, a resource which, while showing a predictable distribution in space and time, is only seasonally available. So far, no predator had been reported to exploit this extraordinarily diverse and abundant food reservoir represented by nocturnally migrating passerines.
Mesendoderm formation and left-right patterning during vertebrate development depend upon selected members of the transforming growth factor β superfamily, particularly Nodal and Nodal-related ligands. Two type I serine/threonine kinase receptors have been identified for Nodal, ALK4 and ALK7. Mouse embryos lacking ALK4 fail to produce mesendoderm and die shortly after gastrulation, resembling the phenotype of Nodal knockout mice. Whether ALK4 contributes to left-right patterning is still unknown. Here we report the generation and initial characterization of mice lacking ALK7. Homozygous mutant mice were born at the expected frequency and remained viable and fertile. Viability at weaning was not different from that of the wild type in ALK7−/−; Nodal+/− and ALK7−/−; ALK4+/− compound mutants. ALK7 and ALK4 were highly expressed in interdigital regions of the developing limb bud. However, ALK7 mutant mice displayed no skeletal abnormalities or limb malformations. None of the left-right patterning abnormalities and organogenesis defects identified in mice carrying mutations in Nodal or in genes encoding ActRIIA and ActRIIB coreceptors, including heart malformations, pulmonary isomerism, right-sided gut, and spleen hypoplasia, were observed in mice lacking ALK7. Finally, the histological organization of the cerebellum, cortex, and hippocampus, all sites of significant ALK7 expression in the rodent brain, appeared normal in ALK7 mutant mice. We conclude that ALK7 is not an essential mediator of Nodal signaling during mesendoderm formation and left-right patterning in the mouse but may instead mediate other activities of Nodal and related ligands in the development or function of particular tissues and organs.
The Notch and transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) signaling pathways play critical roles in the control of cell fate during metazoan development. However, mechanisms of cross-talk and signal integration between the two systems are unknown. Here, we demonstrate a functional synergism between Notch and TGF-β signaling in the regulation of Hes-1, a direct target of the Notch pathway. Activation of TGF-β signaling up-regulated Hes-1 expression in vitro and in vivo. This effect was abrogated in myogenic cells by a dominant-negative form of CSL, an essential DNA-binding component of the Notch pathway. TGF-β regulated transcription from the Hes-1 promoter in a Notch-dependent manner, and the intracellular domain of Notch1 (NICD) cooperated synergistically with Smad3, an intracellular transducer of TGF-β signals, to induce the activation of synthetic promoters containing multimerized CSL- or Smad3-binding sites. NICD and Smad3 were shown to interact directly, both in vitro and in cells, in a ligand-dependent manner, and Smad3 could be recruited to CSL-binding sites on DNA in the presence of CSL and NICD. These findings indicate that Notch and TGF-β signals are integrated by direct protein–protein interactions between the signal-transducing intracellular elements from both pathways.
Hes-1; C2C12; CSL; Smad4; neural stem cell
Brain analysis cannot be used for the investigation of active lyssavirus infection in healthy bats because most bat species are protected by conservation directives. Consequently, serology remains the only tool for performing virological studies on natural bat populations; however, the presence of antibodies merely reflects past exposure to the virus and is not a valid marker of active infection. This work describes a new nested reverse transcription (RT)-PCR technique specifically designed for the detection of the European bat virus 1 on oropharyngeal swabs obtained from bats but also able to amplify RNA from the remaining rabies-related lyssaviruses in brain samples. The technique was successfully used for surveillance of a serotine bat (Eptesicus serotinus) colony involved in a case of human exposure, in which 15 out of 71 oropharyngeal swabs were positive. Lyssavirus infection was detected on 13 oropharyngeal swabs but in only 5 brains out of the 34 animals from which simultaneous brain and oropharyngeal samples had been taken. The lyssavirus involved could be rapidly identified by automatic sequencing of the RT-PCR products obtained from 14 brains and three bat oropharyngeal swabs. In conclusion, RT-PCR using oropharyngeal swabs will permit screening of wild bat populations for active lyssavirus infection, for research or epidemiological purposes, in line not only with conservation policies but also in a more efficient manner than classical detection techniques used on the brain.
With rates of climate change exceeding the rate at which many species are able to shift their range or adapt, it is important to understand how future changes are likely to affect biodiversity at all levels of organisation. Understanding past responses and extent of niche conservatism in climatic tolerance can help predict future consequences. We use an integrated approach to determine the genetic consequences of past and future climate changes on a bat species, Plecotus austriacus. Glacial refugia predicted by palaeo-modelling match those identified from analyses of extant genetic diversity and model-based inference of demographic history. Former refugial populations currently contain disproportionately high genetic diversity, but niche conservatism, shifts in suitable areas and barriers to migration mean that these hotspots of genetic diversity are under threat from future climate change. Evidence of population decline despite recent northward migration highlights the need to conserve leading-edge populations for spearheading future range shifts.
Approximate Bayesian computation; Chiroptera; ecological niche modelling; niche conservatism; phylogeography