Invasive rodents have been responsible for the diffusion worldwide of many zoonotic agents, thus representing major threats for public health. Cities are important hubs for people and goods exchange and are thus expected to play a pivotal role in invasive commensal rodent dissemination. Yet, data about urban rodents' ecology, especially invasive vs. native species interactions, are dramatically scarce. Here, we provide results of an extensive survey of urban rodents conducted in Niamey, Niger, depicting the early stages of rodent bioinvasions within a city. We explore the species-specific spatial distributions throughout the city using contrasted approaches, namely field sampling, co-occurrence analysis, occupancy modelling and indicator geostatistics. We show that (i) two species (i.e. rural-like vs. truly commensal) assemblages can be identified, and that (ii) within commensal rodents, invasive (Rattus rattus and Mus musculus) and native (Mastomys natalensis) species are spatially segregated. Moreover, several pieces of arguments tend to suggest that these exclusive distributions reflect an ongoing native-to-invasive species turn over. The underlying processes as well as the possible consequences for humans are discussed.
Abstract :? Pterygodermatites (Mesopectines) niameyensis n. sp. is described from Mastomys natalensis in Niamey/Niger (West Africa). It differs from other species of same subgenus by the morphology of the head, which presents 4 simple cephalic papillae and nearly axial oral opening, a number of caudal papillae, precloacal cuticular formations, and the spicule length/body length ratio. Scanning electron microscopy shows the presence of 2 pairs of lateral sensory structures for male worms.
A serological survey of Toxoplasma gondii was conducted on 766 domestic and peridomestic rodents from 46 trapping sites throughout the city of Niamey, Niger. A low seroprevalence was found over the whole town with only 1.96% of the rodents found seropositive. However, differences between species were important, ranging from less than 2% in truly commensal Mastomys natalensis, Rattus rattus and Mus musculus, while garden-associated Arvicanthis niloticus displayed 9.1% of seropositive individuals. This is in line with previous studies on tropical rodents--that we reviewed here--which altogether show that Toxoplasma seroprevalence in rodent is highly variable, depending on many factors such as locality and/or species. Moreover, although we were not able to decipher statistically between habitat or species effect, such a contrast between Nile grass rats and the other rodent species points towards a potentially important role of environmental toxoplasmic infection. This would deserve to be further scrutinised since intra-city irrigated cultures are extending in Niamey, thus potentially increasing Toxoplasma circulation in this yet semi-arid region. As far as we are aware of, our study is one of the rare surveys of its kind performed in Sub-Saharan Africa and the first one ever conducted in the Sahel.
The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) has become an essential method for the detection of viruses in tissue specimens. However, it is well known that the presence of PCR inhibitors in tissue samples may cause false-negative results. Hence the identification of PCR inhibitors and evaluation and optimization of nucleic acid extraction and preservation methods is of prime concern in virus discovery programs dealing with animal tissues. Accordingly, to monitor and remove inhibitors we have performed comparative analyses of two commonly used tissue storage methods and five RNA purification techniques using a variety of animal tissues, containing quantified levels of added MS2 bacteriophages as the indicator of inhibition. The results showed (i) no significant difference between the two methods of sample preservation, viz. direct storage at -80°C or 4°C in RNAlater, (ii) lung rodent tissues contained lower levels of inhibitor than liver, kidney and spleen, (iii) RNA extraction using the EZ1+PK RNA kit was the most effective procedure for removal of RT-PCR inhibitors.
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