North America is currently home to a number of grey wolf (Canis lupus) and wolf-like canid popula ... Read more
North America is currently home to a number of grey wolf (Canis lupus) and wolf-like canid populations, including the coyote (Canis latrans) and the taxonomically controversial red, Eastern timber and Great Lakes wolves. We explored their population structure and regional gene flow using a dataset of 40 full genome sequences that represent the extant diversity of North American wolves and wolf-like canid populations. This included 15 new genomes (13 North American grey wolves, 1 red wolf and 1 Eastern timber/Great Lakes wolf), ranging from 0.4 to 15x coverage. In addition to providing full genome support for the previously proposed coyote-wolf admixture origin for the taxonomically controversial red, Eastern timber and Great Lakes wolves, the discriminatory power offered by our dataset suggests all North American grey wolves, including the Mexican form, are monophyletic, and thus share a common ancestor to the exclusion of all other wolves. Furthermore, we identify three distinct populations in the high arctic, one being a previously unidentified “Polar wolf” population endemic to Ellesmere Island and Greenland. Genetic diversity analyses reveal particularly high inbreeding and low heterozygosity in these Polar wolves, consistent with long-term isolation from the other North American wolves.
Dogs were present in the Americas before the arrival of European colonists, but the origin and fa ... Read more
Dogs were present in the Americas before the arrival of European colonists, but the origin and fate of these precontact dogs are largely unknown. We sequenced 71 mitochondrial and 7 nuclear genomes from ancient North American and Siberian dogs from time frames spanning ~9000 years. Our analysis indicates that American dogs were not derived from North American wolves. Instead, American dogs form a monophyletic lineage that likely originated in Siberia and dispersed into the Americas alongside people. After the arrival of Europeans, native American dogs almost completely disappeared, leaving a minimal genetic legacy in modern dog populations. The closest detectable extant lineage to precontact American dogs is the canine transmissible venereal tumor, a contagious cancer clone derived from an individual dog that lived up to 8000 years ago.
Zoonotic infections transmitted from marine mammals to humans in the Baltic and European Arctic a ... Read more
Zoonotic infections transmitted from marine mammals to humans in the Baltic and European Arctic are of unknown significance, despite given considerable potential for transmission due to local hunt. Here we present results of an initial screening for Brucella spp. in Arctic and Baltic seal species. Baltic ringed seals (Pusa hispida, n = 12) sampled in October 2015 and Greenland Sea harp seals (Pagophilus groenlandicus, n = 6) and hooded seals (Cystophora cristata, n = 3) sampled in March 2015 were serologically analysed for antibodies against Brucella spp. The serological analyses were performed using the Rose Bengal Test (RBT) followed by a confirmatory testing of RBT-positive samples by a competitive-enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (C-ELISA). Two of the Baltic ringed seals (a juvenile male and a juvenile female) were seropositive thus indicating previous exposure to a Brucella spp. The findings indicate that ringed seals in the Baltic ecosystem may be exposed to and possibly infected by Brucella spp. No seropositive individuals were detected among the Greenland harp and hooded seals. Although our initial screening shows a zoonotic hazard to Baltic locals, a more in-depth epidemiological investigation is needed in order to determine the human risk associated with this.
For the last two and a half decades, a network of human health experts under the Arctic Monitorin ... Read more
For the last two and a half decades, a network of human health experts under the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP) has produced several human health assessment reports. These reports have provided a base of scientific knowledge regarding environmental contaminants and their impact on human health in the Arctic. These reports provide scientific information and policy-relevant recommendations to Arctic governments. They also support international agreements such as the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and the Minamata Convention on Mercury. Key topics discussed in this paper regarding future human health research in the circumpolar Arctic are continued contaminant biomonitoring, health effects research and risk communication. The objective of this paper is to describe knowledge gaps and future priorities for these fields.