Wild animals are the vectors and reservoirs of emerging infectious diseases with major implications on human health. And yet, little is known about the interactions of these pathogens and their main hosts in their natural environment. One reason for this is that reliable ways to measure immune status and responses is lacking for animals in the wild. In this study we simulated natural infections by viral and bacterial pathogens in captive mallards (Anas platyrhynchos), an important host of emerging infectious diseases such as avian influenza virus (Olsen et al. 2006). To identify differentially expressed genes during each treatment, we performed full transcriptome sequencing on blood samples. Blood samples can easily be obtained from wild individuals, and thus allow for repeated sampling in natural populations. We used three immunostimulants to mimic infections by RNA viruses (polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid, poly I:C), Gram negative bacteria (lipopolysaccharide, LPS), and Gram positive bacteria (cell walls of heat-killed Staphylococcus aureus, S. aureus). We collected blood samples at four time points post simulation (3, 6, 12 and 24hrs). We visualised differential gene expression in the framework of immune signalling pathways from the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) database (Kanehisa et al. 2010) in the VANTED software (Rohn et al. 2012).
On this website we provide you with the opportunity to browse visualisations of our gene expression data. Displayed are the seven immune-related pathways that could be retrieved from the KEGG data base for the mallard Anas platyrhynchos. For each pathway you can choose between one of the three treatments and view the up and down regulation of genes in the respective pathways. Each box represent one gene, and the four bars show the log2 fold change in gene expression for each time point when compared to the control group. You can click at the gene names and get forwarded to its KEGG entry.
For further details, see our publication “Health monitoring in wild birds using remote bio-logging technologies and whole blood immune assays”.