September 11, 2013

Wildlife experts work to keep bighorn sheep healthy and more wildlife disease news


New Clues Emerge On How Corals Bleach

Across the globe, reef-building corals live in symbiosis with algae, which provide the animals with food and their iconic brilliant color. But environmental stress — high temperatures, in particular — can kill corals by causing them to "bleach," a process in which they lose their vital algal friends and turn ghostly white.

Scientists have long thought that faulty algal photosynthesis (the process that uses light to make food) ultimately triggers coral bleaching, but new research now shows that substantial bleaching can also occur when heat-stressed corals are not exposed to light (such as at night).

Live Science
05 Sep 2013
J Castro

Cited Reference 
Dimitri Tolleter et al. Coral Bleaching Independent of Photosynthetic Activity. Current Biology, 2013; [Epub ahead of print] doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.07.041

Disease-Causing Genes Spread Easily in Emerging Lethal Fungus Infection

A rare, emerging fungal disease that is spreading throughout Canada and Northwestern USA can easily pass its deadly genes to related fungal strains within the species but less readily to more distant relatives, according to a study part-funded by the Wellcome Trust.

The findings will help to understand the origins of infectious outbreaks and predict the likelihood of the disease spreading to other populations and geographical areas.

Cryptococcus gattii is a type of fungus that was previously only found in warmer climates throughout the tropics. However, since 1999 outbreaks of highly virulent strains of the fungus have been reported in the cooler climes of Canada and Northwestern USA, causing serious illness in otherwise healthy people and domestic and wild animals and proving fatal in some cases.

...Professor Robin May from the University of Birmingham, who co-led the study with Dr Joseph Heitman from Duke University, said: "That the fungus can easily pass on the genes that make it more dangerous means that we could potentially see new strains of C. gattii cropping up spontaneously, causing outbreaks of disease in areas that were previously unaffected.

Science Daily
05 Sep 2013

Citation Reference
Kerstin Voelz, et al. Transmission of Hypervirulence Traits via Sexual Reproduction within and between Lineages of the Human Fungal Pathogen Cryptococcus gattii. PLoS Genetics, 2013; 9 (9): e1003771 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1003771

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