Seabird ticks are known reservoirs of bacterial pathogens of medical importance; however, ticks parasitizing tropical seabirds have received less attention than their counterparts from temperate and subpolar regions. Recently, Rickettsia africae was described to infect seabird ticks of the western Indian Ocean and New Caledonia, constituting the only available data on bacterial pathogens associated with tropical seabird tick species. Here, we combined a pyrosequencing-based approach with a classical molecular analysis targeting bacteria of potential medical importance in order to describe the bacterial community in two tropical seabird ticks, Amblyomma loculosum and Carios (Ornithodoros) capensis. We also investigated the patterns of prevalence and host specificity within the biogeographical context of the western Indian Ocean islands. The bacterial community of the two tick species was characterized by a strong dominance of Coxiella and Rickettsia. Our data support a strict Coxiella-host tick specificity, a pattern resembling the one found for Rickettsia spp. in the same two seabird tick species. Both the high prevalence and stringent host tick specificity suggest that these bacteria may be tick symbionts with probable vertical transmission. Detailed studies of the pathogenicity of these bacteria will now be required to determine whether horizontal transmission can occur and to clarify their status as potential human pathogens. More generally, our results show that the combination of next generation sequencing with targeted detection/genotyping approaches proves to be efficient in poorly investigated fields where research can be considered to be starting from scratch.
The ID Screen Influenza H5 Antibody Competition enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay was tested for the detection of antibodies to the H5 subtype of influenza A (IA) virus in waterfowl. Assays were conducted with sera obtained from Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) and Pekin Ducks (Anas platyrhynchos domestica), experimentally infected with eight low pathogenic (LP) and nine highly pathogenic (HP) H5N1 IA viral strains. Three incubation periods (1, 4 and 18 hr) and two dilutions (1:2 and 1:5) were tested. All serum samples from LP H5 infected birds tested positive; however, improved detection rates were observed for viruses belonging to the HP H5N1 clade 2.2.1 as compared to those belonging to clade 2.1.3.
Avian influenza; enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay; H5; serology; waterfowl
Blood parasites of the sub-genus Haemoproteus have been reported in seabirds, in particular in species in the Suliformes order. These parasites are transmitted by hippoboscid flies of the genus Olfersia; strong specificity has been suggested between the vector and its vertebrate host. We investigated the prevalence of Haemoproteus infection in Suliformes and hippoboscid flies in two oceanic islands of the Western Indian Ocean: Europa and Tromelin. In total, 209 blood samples were collected from great frigatebirds (Fregata minor), masked boobies (Sula dactylatra) and red-footed boobies (Sula sula). Forty-one hippoboscid flies were also collected from birds. Seventeen frigatebirds and one fly collected on Europa tested positive for the presence of Haemoproteus parasites by polymerase chain reaction. Phylogenetic analyses based on partial sequences of the Cytochrome b gene showed that parasites were closely related to Haemoproteus iwa reported from frigatebirds in the Pacific Ocean and in the Caribbean. Plasmodium was also detected in a frigatebird on Europa; however, its placement on the phylogenetic tree could not be resolved. We provide strong support for transmission of blood parasites in seabirds in the Western Indian Ocean and suggest that migrations between the Pacific and the Indian oceans could favor the large-scale distribution of Haemoproteus iwa in frigatebird populations.
We found a diversity of Rickettsia spp. in seabird ticks from 6 tropical islands. The bacteria showed strong host specificity and sequence similarity with strains in other regions. Seabird ticks may be key reservoirs for pathogenic Rickettsia spp., and bird hosts may have a role in dispersing ticks and tick-associated infectious agents over large distances.
host specificity; Rickettsia spp.; seabird ticks; western Indian Ocean; Rickettsia africae; Amblyomma loculosum ticks; Carios capensis ticks; Rickettsia hoogstraalii; Rickettsia bellii; genetic diversity; geographic range; host; parasites; terrestrial hosts; bacteria
Influenza A viruses are a threat to poultry and human health. We investigated evolution of influenza A virus H7 and N9 subtypes in wild and domestic birds. Influenza A(H7N9) virus probably emerged after a long silent circulation in live poultry markets in eastern Asia.
influenza; avian influenza virus; influenza A virus; viruses; hemagglutinin; neuraminidase; H7 subtype; N9 subtype; wild birds; evolution; gene flow; live-bird markets; poultry; eastern Asia
The persistence of influenza A (IA) virus in aquatic habitats has been demonstrated to be a determinant for virus transmission dynamics in wild duck populations. In this study, we investigated virus strain-related variation in persistence in water for nine wild duck isolated IA viruses of three subtypes (H3N8, H4N6, and H8N4).
We experimentally estimated the loss of infectivity over time in three different types of water: distilled, filtered surface water, and intact surface water. All viruses persisted longest in distilled water followed by filtered surface water with markedly reduced durations of persistence observed in the intact surface water. Strain-related variations were observed in distilled and filtered surface water but limited variation was observed in the intact surface water.
Our findings suggest that the role of surface water for long-term (between years) maintenance of AI viruses in the environment may be limited, and suggest that the physico-chemical characteristics of water, as well as microorganisms, may be of strong importance. Results also indicate that the extent of strain-related variation observed in distilled water may overestimate persistence abilities for IA viruses in the wild and supports the need to develop experiments that account for these effects to assess subtype, genotype, as well as spatial and temporal variation in the persistence of IA viruses in aquatic habitats.
During recent years, extensive amounts of data have become available regarding influenza A virus (IAV) in wild birds in northern Europe, while information from southern Europe is more limited. Here, we present an IAV surveillance study conducted in western Portugal 2008–2009, analyzing 1653 samples from six different species of waterfowl, with the majority of samples taken from Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos). Overall 4.4% of sampled birds were infected. The sampling results revealed a significant temporal variation in the IAV prevalence, including a pronounced peak among predominantly young birds in June, indicating that IAV circulate within breeding populations in the wetlands of western Portugal. The H10N7 and H9N2 subtypes were predominant among isolated viruses. Phylogenetic analyses of the hemagglutinin and neuraminidase sequences of H10N7, H9N2 and H11N3 virus showed that sequences from Portugal were closely related to viral sequences from Central Europe as well as to IAVs isolated in the southern parts of Africa, reflecting Portugal’s position on the European-African bird migratory flyway. This study highlights the importance of Portugal as a migratory crossroad for IAV, connecting breeding stationary waterfowl with birds migrating between continents which enable transmission and spread of IAV.
Wild ducks of the genus Anas represent the natural hosts for a large genetic diversity of influenza A viruses. In these hosts, co-infections with different virus genotypes are frequent and result in high rates of genetic reassortment. Recent genomic data have provided information regarding the pattern and frequency of these reassortant viruses in duck populations; however, potential consequences on viral shedding and maintenance in the environment have not been investigated. On the basis of full-genome sequencing, we identified five virus genotypes, in a wild duck population in northwestern Minnesota (USA), that naturally arose from genetic reassortments. We investigated the effects of influenza A virus genotype on the viral shedding pattern in Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) and the duration of infectivity in water, under different temperature regimens. Overall, we found that variation in the viral genome composition of these isolates had limited effects on duration, extent and pattern of viral shedding, as well as on the reduction of infectivity in water over time. These results support that, in wild ducks, functionally equivalent gene segments could be maintained in virus populations with no fitness costs when genetic reassortments occur.
avian influenza virus; genetic reassortments; wild birds; mallards; water-borne transmission; experimental infections
Water-borne transmission has been suggested as an important transmission mechanism for Influenza A (IA) viruses in wild duck populations; however, relatively few studies have attempted to detect IA viruses from aquatic habitats. Water-isolated viruses have rarely been genetically characterized and evaluation for persistence in water and infectivity in natural hosts has never been documented. In this study, we focused on two IA viruses (H3N8 and H4N6 subtypes) isolated from surface lake water in Minnesota, USA. We investigated the relative prevalence of the two virus subtypes in wild duck populations at the sampling site and their genetic relatedness to IA viruses isolated in wild waterbirds in North America. Viral persistence under different laboratory conditions (temperature and pH) and replication in experimentally infected Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) were also characterized. Both viruses were the most prevalent subtype one year following their isolation in lake water. The viruses persisted in water for an extended time period at constant temperature (several weeks) but infectivity rapidly reduced under multiple freeze-thaw cycles. Furthermore, the two isolates efficiently replicated in Mallards. The complete genome characterization supported that these isolates originated from genetic reassortments with other IA viruses circulating in wild duck populations during the year of sampling. Based on phylogenetic analyses, we couldn't identify genetically similar viruses in duck populations in the years following their isolation from lake water. Our study supports the role for water-borne transmission for IA viruses but also highlights that additional field and experimental studies are required to support inter-annual persistence in aquatic habitats.
Evolutionary consequences of host shifts represent a challenge to identify the mechanisms involved in the emergence of influenza A (IA) viruses. In this study we focused on the evolutionary history of H7 IA virus in wild and domestic birds, with a particular emphasis on host shifts consequences on the molecular evolution of the hemagglutinin (HA) gene. Based on a dataset of 414 HA nucleotide sequences, we performed an extensive phylogeographic analysis in order to identify the overall genetic structure of H7 IA viruses. We then identified host shift events and investigated viral population dynamics in wild and domestic birds, independently. Finally, we estimated changes in nucleotide substitution rates and tested for positive selection in the HA gene. A strong association between the geographic origin and the genetic structure was observed, with four main clades including viruses isolated in North America, South America, Australia and Eurasia-Africa. We identified ten potential events of virus introduction from wild to domestic birds, but little evidence for spillover of viruses from poultry to wild waterbirds. Several sites involved in host specificity (addition of a glycosylation site in the receptor binding domain) and virulence (insertion of amino acids in the cleavage site) were found to be positively selected in HA nucleotide sequences, in genetically unrelated lineages, suggesting parallel evolution for the HA gene of IA viruses in domestic birds. These results highlight that evolutionary consequences of bird host shifts would need to be further studied to understand the ecological and molecular mechanisms involved in the emergence of domestic bird-adapted viruses.
Influenza A; duck; poultry; adaptation; virulence; receptor binding domain; parallel evolution
One of the most fascinating examples of parasite-induced host manipulation is that of hairworms, first, because they induce a spectacular “suicide” water-seeking behavior in their terrestrial insect hosts and, second, because the emergence of the parasite is not lethal per se for the host that can live several months following parasite release. The mechanisms hairworms use to increase the encounter rate between their host and water remain, however, poorly understood. Considering the selective landscape in which nematomorph manipulation has evolved as well as previously obtained proteomics data, we predicted that crickets harboring mature hairworms would display a modified behavioral response to light. Since following parasite emergence in water, the cricket host and parasitic worm do not interact physiologically anymore, we also predicted that the host would recover from the modified behaviors. We examined the effect of hairworm infection on different behavioral responses of the host when stimulated by light to record responses from uninfected, infected, and ex-infected crickets. We showed that hairworm infection fundamentally modifies cricket behavior by inducing directed responses to light, a condition from which they mostly recover once the parasite is released. This study supports the idea that host manipulation by parasites is subtle, complex, and multidimensional.
behavior; insects; nematomorph; parasite manipulation; parasitism; phototaxis
Differences in virus evolution may explain virulence heterogeneity.
Understanding of ecologic factors favoring emergence and maintenance of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses is limited. Although low pathogenic avian influenza viruses persist and evolve in wild populations, HPAI viruses evolve in domestic birds and cause economically serious epizootics that only occasionally infect wild populations. We propose that evolutionary ecology considerations can explain this apparent paradox. Host structure and transmission possibilities differ considerably between wild and domestic birds and are likely to be major determinants of virulence. Because viral fitness is highly dependent on host survival and dispersal in nature, virulent forms are unlikely to persist in wild populations if they kill hosts quickly or affect predation risk or migratory performance. Interhost transmission in water has evolved in low pathogenic influenza viruses in wild waterfowl populations. However, oropharyngeal shedding and transmission by aerosols appear more efficient for HPAI viruses among domestic birds.
Influenza A (H5N1); wild birds; highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses; viruses; influenza; poultry; free-grazing ducks; live bird markets; environment; perspective
Since the recent spread of highly pathogenic (HP) H5N1 subtypes, avian influenza virus (AIV) dispersal has become an increasing focus of research. As for any other bird-borne pathogen, dispersal of these viruses is related to local and migratory movements of their hosts. In this study, we investigated potential AIV spread by Common Teal (Anas crecca) from the Camargue area, in the South of France, across Europe. Based on bird-ring recoveries, local duck population sizes and prevalence of infection with these viruses, we built an individual-based spatially explicit model describing bird movements, both locally (between wintering areas) and at the flyway scale. We investigated the effects of viral excretion duration and inactivation rate in water by simulating AIV spread with varying values for these two parameters. The results indicate that an efficient AIV dispersal in space is possible only for excretion durations longer than 7 days. Virus inactivation rate in the environment appears as a key parameter in the model because it allows local persistence of AIV over several months, the interval between two migratory periods. Virus persistence in water thus represents an important component of contamination risk as ducks migrate along their flyway. Based on the present modelling exercise, we also argue that HP H5N1 AIV is unlikely to be efficiently spread by Common Teal dispersal only.