Research Papers

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The evolutionary dynamics of the lion Panthera leo revealed by host and viral population genomics

Here, we used a large dataset from 357 lions comprehending 1.13 megabases of sequence data and genotypes from 22 microsatellite loci to characterize its recent evolutionary history. In spite of the ability of lions to disperse long distances, patterns of lion genetic diversity suggest substantial population subdivision and reduced gene flow, which, along with large differences in seroprevalence of six distinct FIVple subtypes among lion populations, refute the hypothesis that African lions consist of a single panmictic population.

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Detection and Genetic Analysis of Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIVple) in Southern African Lions (Panthera leo)

Feline immunodeficiency virus is a retrovirus of domestic cats that causes immunosuppressive disease and lifelong infection. Lentivirus has also been detected in African lions (Panthera leo). The lentivirus infecting lions in southern Africa has never been isolated; thus, knowledge about its molecular characteristics in these populations is limited. Our investigation used whole blood samples collected opportunistically from free-ranging southern African lions in Kruger National Park, South Africa, and from Hlane Royal National Park in Swaziland to analyse the lentivirus. Whole blood samples from captive exotic felids from zoos in South Africa and the United States, and from domestic cats in South Africa were analysed for comparison. A nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay was used to amplify a portion of the proviral DNA encoding the reverse transcriptase. The nucleotide sequence of all products was determined and examined. The PCR assay was successful in amplifying lion lentivirus, with 52 positive and 65 negative samples. Of the 34 sequences amplified from a variety of felids, six showed an average of 96% homology to domestic feline lentivirus, and 28 showed an average of 94% homology to lion lentivirus. In addition, domestic cat lentivirus nucleic acid was amplified from a captive tiger, demonstrating the possibility of cross-species transmission.

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Prevalence of hematozoans in lions (Panthera leo) and cheetah (Acinonyx jubutas) in Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

Lions and cheetah from Serengeti NP and Ngorongoro were examined for the presence of blood protozoans. 28% of lions were infected with Trypanosoma sp. with prevalence variation between adjacent habitats.. All animals were infected with Hepatozoon sp and a Theileria sp.-like piroplasm

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