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Research of Morbillivirus in exhaled air samples of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) through biomolecular analysis (RT-qPCR)

Grant number: 19/11053-4
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): August 01, 2019
Effective date (End): July 31, 2020
Field of knowledge:Agronomical Sciences - Veterinary Medicine - Animal Pathology
Principal researcher:Jose Luiz Catao Dias
Grantee:Diana Netto Hernandez Blazquez
Home Institution: Faculdade de Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia (FMVZ). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil

Abstract

The humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) is a species that has suffered large population declines in the 20th century due to commercial whaling. After the prohibition of this activity the specie has been recovering, but still faces several other threats, being evidenced by the increase in the number of stranded animals over the years along the Brazilian coast. One possible threat for this population is the Cetaceans Morbillivirus (Paramyxoviridae family), a pathogen associated with high mortality rates of several cetacean species and mainly affects the respiratory, lymphoid and nervous system. Recently, the virus has been found in cetaceans of the Brazilian coast and has caused an epizootic outbreak leading more than 260 cetaceans to death on the coast of Rio de Janeiro. It is known that Humpback whales are susceptible to morbillivirus. However, the investigations are usually carried out through the study of animals found stranded on the beaches, which limits the number of individuals evaluated. On the other hand, there are promising non-invasive tools for monitoring the health of free-living whales, highlighting the search of respiratory pathogens in the air exhaled by the animals. In this context, the present study aims to investigate the presence of Cetaceans Morbillivirus in the exhaled air of Humpback whales which reproduce around the Archipelago of Abrolhos (Bahia and Espírito Santo coasts, Brazil). A total of 69 samples of exhaled air ("whale blow") of 51 groups of humpback whales, collected during the reproductive seasons of 2011 to 2012 will be used to investigate morbillivirus by real time RT-PCR using SYBR® GREEN method. It is expected that the results of this study pioneer the relative prevalence of morbillivirus in humpback whales from the Abrolhos region during these two years. It is expected that from the results it will be possible to contribute to the inference of the importance and impact of this agent in the population of humpback whales in the Brazilian coast and provide a basis for future monitoring and conservation studies of these large cetaceans.

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Scientific publications
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
GROCH, KATIA R.; BLAZQUEZ, DIANA N. H.; MARCONDES, MILTON C. C.; SANTOS, JOANA; COLOSIO, ADRIANA; DELGADO, JOSUE DIAZ; CATAO-DIAS, JOSE L. Cetacean morbillivirus in Humpback whales' exhaled breath. TRANSBOUNDARY AND EMERGING DISEASES, v. 68, n. 4, p. 1736-1743, JUL 2021. Web of Science Citations: 1.
GROCH, KATIA R.; BLAZQUEZ, DIANA N. H.; MARCONDES, MILTON C. C.; SANTOS, JOANA; COLOSIO, ADRIANA; DELGADO, JOSUE DIAZ; CATAO-DIAS, JOSE L. Cetacean morbillivirus in Humpback whales' exhaled breath. TRANSBOUNDARY AND EMERGING DISEASES, OCT 2020. Web of Science Citations: 0.

Please report errors in scientific publications list by writing to: cdi@fapesp.br.