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Sample records for amblysomus hottentotus afrosoricida

  1. Placentation in the Hottentot golden mole, Amblysomus hottentotus (Afrosoricida: Chrysochloridae)

    DEFF Research Database (Denmark)

    Jones, C J P; Carter, A M; Bennett, N C

    2009-01-01

    The placentation of the Hottentot golden mole (Amblysomus hottentotus) has been examined using light and electron microscopy and lectin histochemistry of nine specimens at both mid and late gestation. The placentae were lobulated towards the allantoic surface and the lobules contained roughly...... parallel arrays of labyrinthine structures converging on a central spongy zone. At mid gestation, the arrays were composed of an inner cellular and outer syncytial trophoblast layer, the inner layer enclosing scant connective tissue and fetal capillaries. Maternal blood spaces coursed through the outer...... trophoblast and were lined by trophoblastic microvilli; the blood spaces were narrow in mid gestation but enlarged near term, while the inner trophoblast layer became thinner and seemed to be syncytial. These features were confirmed by transmission electron microscopy. The microvillous surfaces and dispersed...

  2. Morphological diversity in tenrecs (Afrosoricida, Tenrecidae: comparing tenrec skull diversity to their closest relatives

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    Sive Finlay

    2015-04-01

    Full Text Available It is important to quantify patterns of morphological diversity to enhance our understanding of variation in ecological and evolutionary traits. Here, we present a quantitative analysis of morphological diversity in a family of small mammals, the tenrecs (Afrosoricida, Tenrecidae. Tenrecs are often cited as an example of an exceptionally morphologically diverse group. However, this assumption has not been tested quantitatively. We use geometric morphometric analyses of skull shape to test whether tenrecs are more morphologically diverse than their closest relatives, the golden moles (Afrosoricida, Chrysochloridae. Tenrecs occupy a wider range of ecological niches than golden moles so we predict that they will be more morphologically diverse. Contrary to our expectations, we find that tenrec skulls are only more morphologically diverse than golden moles when measured in lateral view. Furthermore, similarities among the species-rich Microgale tenrec genus appear to mask higher morphological diversity in the rest of the family. These results reveal new insights into the morphological diversity of tenrecs and highlight the importance of using quantitative methods to test qualitative assumptions about patterns of morphological diversity.

  3. Characterization of gonadotrophin-releasing hormone precursor cDNA in the Old World mole-rat Cryptomys hottentotus pretoriae: high degree of identity with the New World guinea pig sequence.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Kalamatianos, T; du Toit, L; Hrabovszky, E; Kalló, I; Marsh, P J; Bennett, N C; Coen, C W

    2005-05-01

    Regulation of pituitary gonadotrophins by the decapeptide gonadotrophin-releasing hormone 1 (GnRH1) is crucial for the development and maintenance of reproductive functions. A common amino acid sequence for this decapeptide, designated as 'mammalian' GnRH, has been identified in all mammals thus far investigated with the exception of the guinea pig, in which there are two amino acid substitutions. Among hystricognath rodents, the members of the family Bathyergidae regulate reproduction in response to diverse cues. Thus, highveld mole-rats (Cryptomys hottentotus pretoriae) are social bathyergids in which breeding is restricted to a particular season in the dominant female, but continuously suppressed in subordinate colony members. Elucidation of reproductive control in these animals will be facilitated by characterization of their GnRH1 gene. A partial sequence of GnRH1 precursor cDNA was isolated and characterized. Comparative analysis revealed the highest degree of identity (86%) to guinea pig GnRH1 precursor mRNA. Nevertheless, the deduced amino acid sequence of the mole-rat decapeptide is identical to the 'mammalian' sequence rather than that of guinea pigs. Successful detection of GnRH1-synthesizing neurones using either a guinea pig GnRH1 riboprobe or an antibody against the 'mammalian' decapeptide is consistent with the guinea pig-like sequence for the precursor and the classic 'mammalian' form for the decapeptide. The high degree of identity in the GnRH1 precursor sequence between this Old World mole-rat and the New World guinea pig is consistent with the theory that caviomorphs and phiomorphs originated from a common ancestral line in the Palaeocene to mid Eocene, some 63-45 million years ago.

  4. Phylogeography of a Morphologically Cryptic Golden Mole Assemblage from South-Eastern Africa.

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    Samantha Mynhardt

    Full Text Available The Greater Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany (GMPA region of southern Africa was recently designated as a centre of vertebrate endemism. The phylogeography of the vertebrate taxa occupying this region may provide insights into the evolution of faunal endemism in south-eastern Africa. Here we investigate the phylogeographic patterns of an understudied small mammal species assemblage (Amblysomus endemic to the GMPA, to test for cryptic diversity within the genus, and to better understand diversification across the region. We sampled specimens from 50 sites across the distributional range of Amblysomus, with emphasis on the widespread A. hottentotus, to analyse geographic patterns of genetic diversity using mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA and nuclear intron data. Molecular dating was used to elucidate the evolutionary and phylogeographic history of Amblysomus. Our phylogenetic reconstructions show that A. hottentotus comprises several distinct lineages, or evolutionarily significant units (ESUs, some with restricted geographic ranges and thus worthy of conservation attention. Divergence of the major lineages dated to the early Pliocene, with later radiations in the GMPA during the late-Pliocene to early-Pleistocene. Evolutionary diversification within Amblysomus may have been driven by uplift of the Great Escarpment c. 5-3 million years ago (Ma, habitat changes associated with intensification of the east-west rainfall gradient across South Africa and the influence of subsequent global climatic cycles. These drivers possibly facilitated geographic spread of ancestral lineages, local adaptation and vicariant isolation. Our study adds to growing empirical evidence identifying East and southern Africa as cradles of vertebrate diversity.

  5. The karyotype and taxonomic status of Cryptomys hottentotus darlingi

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    hypotonic solution. The animals were injecled subcutane- ously with yeasl for three consecutive days before colchicine injection to increase the mitotic rate in the bone marrow cells (Lee & Elder 1980). C-banded karyotypes were prepared by the barium hydroxide lechnique of. Sumner (1972). Nomenclalure for centromeric ...

  6. A phylogenetic estimate for golden moles (Mammalia, Afrotheria, Chrysochloridae

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    Bloomer Paulette

    2010-03-01

    Full Text Available Abstract Background Golden moles (Chrysochloridae are small, subterranean, afrotherian mammals from South Africa and neighboring regions. Of the 21 species now recognized, some (e.g., Chrysochloris asiatica, Amblysomus hottentotus are relatively common, whereas others (e.g., species of Chrysospalax, Cryptochloris, Neamblysomus are rare and endangered. Here, we use a combined analysis of partial sequences of the nuclear GHR gene and morphological characters to derive a phylogeny of species in the family Chrysochloridae. Results Although not all nodes of the combined analysis have high support values, the overall pattern of relationships obtained from different methods of phylogeny reconstruction allow us to make several recommendations regarding the current taxonomy of golden moles. We elevate Huetia to generic status to include the species leucorhinus and confirm the use of the Linnean binomial Carpitalpa arendsi, which belongs within Amblysominae along with Amblysomus and Neamblysomus. A second group, Chrysochlorinae, includes Chrysochloris, Cryptochloris, Huetia, Eremitalpa, Chrysospalax, and Calcochloris. Bayesian methods make chrysochlorines paraphyletic by placing the root within them, coinciding with root positions favored by a majority of randomly-generated outgroup taxa. Maximum Parsimony (MP places the root either between chrysochlorines and amblysomines (with Chlorotalpa as sister taxon to amblysomines, or at Chlorotalpa, with the former two groups reconstructed as monophyletic in all optimal MP trees. Conclusions The inclusion of additional genetic loci for this clade is important to confirm our taxonomic results and resolve the chrysochlorid root. Nevertheless, our optimal topologies support a division of chrysochlorids into amblysomines and chrysochlorines, with Chlorotalpa intermediate between the two. Furthermore, evolution of the chrysochlorid malleus exhibits homoplasy. The elongate malleus has evolved just once in the

  7. A phylogenetic estimate for golden moles (Mammalia, Afrotheria, Chrysochloridae).

    Science.gov (United States)

    Asher, Robert J; Maree, Sarita; Bronner, Gary; Bennett, Nigel C; Bloomer, Paulette; Czechowski, Paul; Meyer, Matthias; Hofreiter, Michael

    2010-03-09

    Golden moles (Chrysochloridae) are small, subterranean, afrotherian mammals from South Africa and neighboring regions. Of the 21 species now recognized, some (e.g., Chrysochloris asiatica, Amblysomus hottentotus) are relatively common, whereas others (e.g., species of Chrysospalax, Cryptochloris, Neamblysomus) are rare and endangered. Here, we use a combined analysis of partial sequences of the nuclear GHR gene and morphological characters to derive a phylogeny of species in the family Chrysochloridae. Although not all nodes of the combined analysis have high support values, the overall pattern of relationships obtained from different methods of phylogeny reconstruction allow us to make several recommendations regarding the current taxonomy of golden moles. We elevate Huetia to generic status to include the species leucorhinus and confirm the use of the Linnean binomial Carpitalpa arendsi, which belongs within Amblysominae along with Amblysomus and Neamblysomus. A second group, Chrysochlorinae, includes Chrysochloris, Cryptochloris, Huetia, Eremitalpa, Chrysospalax, and Calcochloris. Bayesian methods make chrysochlorines paraphyletic by placing the root within them, coinciding with root positions favored by a majority of randomly-generated outgroup taxa. Maximum Parsimony (MP) places the root either between chrysochlorines and amblysomines (with Chlorotalpa as sister taxon to amblysomines), or at Chlorotalpa, with the former two groups reconstructed as monophyletic in all optimal MP trees. The inclusion of additional genetic loci for this clade is important to confirm our taxonomic results and resolve the chrysochlorid root. Nevertheless, our optimal topologies support a division of chrysochlorids into amblysomines and chrysochlorines, with Chlorotalpa intermediate between the two. Furthermore, evolution of the chrysochlorid malleus exhibits homoplasy. The elongate malleus has evolved just once in the Cryptochloris-Chrysochloris group; other changes in shape have

  8. Locomotor Activity and Body Temperature Patterns over a Temperature Gradient in the Highveld Mole-Rat (Cryptomys hottentotus pretoriae).

    Science.gov (United States)

    Haupt, Meghan; Bennett, Nigel C; Oosthuizen, Maria K

    2017-01-01

    African mole-rats are strictly subterranean mammals that live in extensive burrow systems. High humidity levels in the burrows prevent mole-rats from thermoregulating using evaporative cooling. However, the relatively stable environment of the burrows promotes moderate temperatures and small daily temperature fluctuations. Mole-rats therefore display a relatively wide range of thermoregulation abilities. Some species cannot maintain their body temperatures at a constant level, whereas others employ behavioural thermoregulation. Here we test the effect of ambient temperature on locomotor activity and body temperature, and the relationship between the two parameters, in the highveld mole-rat. We exposed mole-rats to a 12L:12D and a DD light cycle at ambient temperatures of 30°C, 25°C and 20°C while locomotor activity and body temperature were measured simultaneously. In addition, we investigated the endogenous rhythms of locomotor activity and body temperature at different ambient temperatures. Mole-rats displayed nocturnal activity at all three ambient temperatures and were most active at 20°C, but least active at 30°C. Body temperature was highest at 30°C and lowest at 20°C, and the daily cycle was highly correlated with locomotor activity. We show that the mole-rats have endogenous rhythms for both locomotor activity and body temperature. However, the endogenous body temperature rhythm appears to be less robust compared to the locomotor activity rhythm. Female mole-rats appear to be more sensitive to temperature changes than males, increased heterothermy is evident at lower ambient temperatures, whilst males show smaller variation in their body temperatures with changing ambient temperatures. Mole-rats may rely more heavily on behavioural thermoregulation as it is more energy efficient in an already challenging environment.

  9. New distribution records for four mammal species, with notes on their taxonomy and ecology

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    G.N. Bronner

    1990-09-01

    Full Text Available New distribution records for four small mammal species (Georychus capensis, Galerella pulverulenta, Rhinolophus swinnyi and Amblysomus julianae are presented, along with relevant notes on the taxonomy, karyology and ecology of these species.

  10. African Zoology - Vol 39, No 1 (2004)

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    Afrosoricida: Chrysochloridae) from KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa · EMAIL FULL TEXT EMAIL FULL TEXT DOWNLOAD FULL TEXT DOWNLOAD FULL TEXT. S Schoeman, N.C. Bennett, M van der Merwe, A.S. Schoeman, 41-46.

  11. A live-trap and trapping technique for fossorial mammals

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    mammals. G.C. Hickman. An effective live-trap was designed for Cryptomys hottentotus .... that there is an animal in the burrow system, and to lessen the likelihood of the .... the further testing and modification of existing trap types. Not only is it ...

  12. Small mammals of the Addo Elephant National Park

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    P. Swanepoel

    1975-07-01

    Full Text Available A survey of the small mammals of the Addo Elephant National Park resulted in a checklist, as well as information on relative numbers, distribution within the Park, reproductive activity, sex ratios, and body measurements. Forty mammals species occur in the Park, while three re-introduced species probably do not occur any longer. Of the 40 species 28 are considered small mammals comprising 13 rodent, eight carnivore, two shrew, two bat, one primate and one lagomorph species, as well as the aardvark: Crociduraflavescens, C. cyanea infumata, Rousettus aegyptiacus, Eptesicus capensis, Cercopithecus pygerythrus, Canis mesomelas, Ictonyx striatus, Poecilogale albinucha, Genetta sp., Herpestes pulverulentus, Suricata suricatta, Proteles cristatus, Felis caracal, Orycteropus afer, Lepus saxatilis, Cryptomys hottentotus, Hystrix africae-australis, Pedetes capensis, Graphiurus murinus, Aethomys namaquensis, Praomys natalensis, Rhabdomys pumilio, Mus minutoides, Rattus rattus, Saccostomys campestris, Desmodillus auricularis, Otomys irroratus and 0. unisulcatus.

  13. Transposition and Intermingling of Galphai2 and Galphao afferences into single vomeronasal glomeruli in the Madagascan lesser Tenrec Echinops telfairi.

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    Rodrigo Suárez

    2009-11-01

    Full Text Available The vomeronasal system (VNS mediates pheromonal communication in mammals. From the vomeronasal organ, two populations of sensory neurons, expressing either Galphai2 or Galphao proteins, send projections that end in glomeruli distributed either at the rostral or caudal half of the accessory olfactory bulb (AOB, respectively. Neurons at the AOB contact glomeruli of a single subpopulation. The dichotomic segregation of AOB glomeruli has been described in opossums, rodents and rabbits, while Primates and Laurasiatheres present the Galphai2-pathway only, or none at all (such as apes, some bats and aquatic species. We studied the AOB of the Madagascan lesser tenrec Echinops telfairi (Afrotheria: Afrosoricida and found that Galphai2 and Galphao proteins are expressed in rostral and caudal glomeruli, respectively. However, the segregation of vomeronasal glomeruli at the AOB is not exclusive, as both pathways contained some glomeruli transposed into the adjoining subdomain. Moreover, some glomeruli seem to contain intermingled afferences from both pathways. Both the transposition and heterogeneity of vomeronasal afferences are features, to our knowledge, never reported before. The organization of AOB glomeruli suggests that synaptic integration might occur at the glomerular layer. Whether intrinsic AOB neurons may make synaptic contact with axon terminals of both subpopulations is an interesting possibility that would expand our understanding about the integration of vomeronasal pathways.

  14. The role of host traits, season and group size on parasite burdens in a cooperative mammal.

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    Hermien Viljoen

    Full Text Available The distribution of parasites among hosts is often characterised by a high degree of heterogeneity with a small number of hosts harbouring the majority of parasites. Such patterns of aggregation have been linked to variation in host exposure and susceptibility as well as parasite traits and environmental factors. Host exposure and susceptibility may differ with sexes, reproductive effort and group size. Furthermore, environmental factors may affect both the host and parasite directly and contribute to temporal heterogeneities in parasite loads. We investigated the contributions of host and parasite traits as well as season on parasite loads in highveld mole-rats (Cryptomys hottentotus pretoriae. This cooperative breeder exhibits a reproductive division of labour and animals live in colonies of varying sizes that procreate seasonally. Mole-rats were parasitised by lice, mites, cestodes and nematodes with mites (Androlaelaps sp. and cestodes (Mathevotaenia sp. being the dominant ecto- and endoparasites, respectively. Sex and reproductive status contributed little to the observed parasite prevalence and abundances possibly as a result of the shared burrow system. Clear seasonal patterns of parasite prevalence and abundance emerged with peaks in summer for mites and in winter for cestodes. Group size correlated negatively with mite abundance while it had no effect on cestode burdens and group membership affected infestation with both parasites. We propose that the mode of transmission as well as social factors constrain parasite propagation generating parasite patterns deviating from those commonly predicted.

  15. Plasticity and constraints on social evolution in African mole-rats: ultimate and proximate factors.

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    Faulkes, Chris G; Bennett, Nigel C

    2013-05-19

    Here, we review comparative studies of African mole-rats (family Bathyergidae) to explain how constraints acting at the ultimate (environmental) and proximate (organismal) levels have led to convergent gains and losses of sociality within this extensive adaptive radiation of subterranean rodents endemic to sub-Saharan Africa. At the ultimate level, living in environments that range from mesic through to arid has led to both variation and flexibility in social organization among species, culminating in the pinnacle of social evolution in the eusocial naked and Damaraland mole-rats (Heterocephalus glaber and Fukomys damarensis). The common mole-rat (Cryptomys hottentotus) provides a model example of how plasticity in social traits exists within a single species inhabiting areas with different ecological constraint. At the proximate level, reproductive strategies and cooperative breeding may be constrained by the correlated evolution of a suite of traits including physiological suppression of reproduction, the development of physiological and morphological castes, and the mode of ovulatory control and seasonality in breeding. Furthermore, recent neurobiological advances indicate that differential patterns of neurotransmitter expression within the forebrain may underpin (and limit) either a solitary or group living/cooperative lifestyle not only in mole-rats, but also more widely among disparate mammalian taxa.

  16. Fos expression in the suprachiasmatic nucleus in response to light stimulation in a solitary and social species of African mole-rat (family Bathyergidae).

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    Oosthuizen, M K; Bennett, N C; Cooper, H M

    2005-01-01

    Mole-rats are strictly subterranean rodents that are rarely exposed to environmental light. They are well adapted to their environment and have reduced eyes and a severely regressed visual system. It has been shown, however, that mole-rats do exhibit endogenous circadian rhythms that can be entrained, suggesting an intact and functional circadian system. To determine whether light is the entraining agent in these animals, Fos expression in response to light pulses at different circadian times was investigated to obtain phase response curves. Light is integrated effectively in the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the Cape mole-rat (Georychus capensis), and Fos expression is gated according to the phase of the circadian clock. The Fos response in the Cape mole-rat was comparable to that of aboveground rodents. In contrast, the highveld mole-rat (Cryptomys hottentotus pretoriae) was less sensitive to light and did not show a selective Fos response according to the phase of the circadian cycle. Social species appear to be less sensitive to light than their solitary counterparts, which compares well with results from locomotor activity studies.

  17. Molecular phylogeny and divergence times of Malagasy tenrecs: Influence of data partitioning and taxon sampling on dating analyses

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    Glos Julian

    2008-03-01

    Full Text Available Abstract Background Malagasy tenrecs belong to the Afrotherian clade of placental mammals and comprise three subfamilies divided in eight genera (Tenrecinae: Tenrec, Echinops, Setifer and Hemicentetes; Oryzorictinae: Oryzorictes, Limnogale and Microgale; Geogalinae:Geogale. The diversity of their morphology and incomplete taxon sampling made it difficult until now to resolve phylogenies based on either morphology or molecular data for this group. Therefore, in order to delineate the evolutionary history of this family, phylogenetic and dating analyses were performed on a four nuclear genes dataset (ADRA2B, AR, GHR and vWF including all Malagasy tenrec genera. Moreover, the influence of both taxon sampling and data partitioning on the accuracy of the estimated ages were assessed. Results Within Afrotheria the vast majority of the nodes received a high support, including the grouping of hyrax with sea cow and the monophyly of both Afroinsectivora (Macroscelidea + Afrosoricida and Afroinsectiphillia (Tubulidentata + Afroinsectivora. Strongly supported relationships were also recovered among all tenrec genera, allowing us to firmly establish the grouping of Geogale with Oryzorictinae, and to confirm the previously hypothesized nesting of Limnogale within the genus Microgale. The timeline of Malagasy tenrec diversification does not reflect a fast adaptive radiation after the arrival on Madagascar, indicating that morphological specializations have appeared over the whole evolutionary history of the family, and not just in a short period after colonization. In our analysis, age estimates at the root of a clade became older with increased taxon sampling of that clade. Moreover an augmentation of data partitions resulted in older age estimates as well, whereas standard deviations increased when more extreme partition schemes were used. Conclusion Our results provide as yet the best resolved gene tree comprising all Malagasy tenrec genera, and may lead

  18. Adult neurogenesis and its anatomical context in the hippocampus of three mole-rat species

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    Irmgard eAmrein

    2014-05-01

    Full Text Available African mole-rats (family Bathyergidae are small to medium sized, long-lived and strictly subterranean rodents that became valuable animal models as a result of their longevity and diversity in social organization. The formation and integration of new hippocampal neurons in adult mammals (adult hippocampal neurogenesis, AHN correlates negatively with age and positively with habitat complexity. Here we present quantitative data on AHN in wild-derived mole-rats of one year and older, and briefly describe its anatomical context including markers of neuronal function (calbindin and parvalbumin. Solitary Cape mole-rats (Georychus capensis, social highveld mole-rats (Cryptomys hottentotus pretoriae, and eusocial naked mole-rats (Heterocephalus glaber were assessed. Compared to other rodents, the hippocampal formation in mole-rats is small, but shows a distinct cytoarchitecture in the dentate gyrus and CA1. Distributions of the calcium-binding proteins differ from those seen in rodents; e.g., calbindin in CA3 of naked mole-rats distributes similar to the pattern seen in early primate development, and calbindin staining extends into the stratum lacunosum-moleculare of Cape mole-rats. Proliferating cells and young neurons are found in low numbers in the hippocampus of all three mole-rat species. Resident granule cell numbers are low as well. Proliferating cells expressed as a percentage of resident granule cells are in the range of other rodents, while the percentage of young neurons is lower than that observed in surface dwelling rodents. Between mole-rat species, we observed no difference in the percentage of proliferating cells. The percentages of young neurons are high in social highveld and naked mole-rats, and low in solitary Cape mole-rats. The findings support that proliferation is regulated independently of average life expectancy and habitat. Instead, neuronal differentiation reflects species-specific demands, which appear lower in subterranean

  19. Adult neurogenesis and its anatomical context in the hippocampus of three mole-rat species.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Amrein, Irmgard; Becker, Anton S; Engler, Stefanie; Huang, Shih-Hui; Müller, Julian; Slomianka, Lutz; Oosthuizen, Maria K

    2014-01-01

    African mole-rats (family Bathyergidae) are small to medium sized, long-lived, and strictly subterranean rodents that became valuable animal models as a result of their longevity and diversity in social organization. The formation and integration of new hippocampal neurons in adult mammals (adult hippocampal neurogenesis, AHN) correlates negatively with age and positively with habitat complexity. Here we present quantitative data on AHN in wild-derived mole-rats of 1 year and older, and briefly describe its anatomical context including markers of neuronal function (calbindin and parvalbumin). Solitary Cape mole-rats (Georychus capensis), social highveld mole-rats (Cryptomys hottentotus pretoriae), and eusocial naked mole-rats (Heterocephalus glaber) were assessed. Compared to other rodents, the hippocampal formation in mole-rats is small, but shows a distinct cytoarchitecture in the dentate gyrus and CA1. Distributions of the calcium-binding proteins differ from those seen in rodents; e.g., calbindin in CA3 of naked mole-rats distributes similar to the pattern seen in early primate development, and calbindin staining extends into the stratum lacunosum-moleculare of Cape mole-rats. Proliferating cells and young neurons are found in low numbers in the hippocampus of all three mole-rat species. Resident granule cell numbers are low as well. Proliferating cells expressed as a percentage of resident granule cells are in the range of other rodents, while the percentage of young neurons is lower than that observed in surface dwelling rodents. Between mole-rat species, we observed no difference in the percentage of proliferating cells. The percentages of young neurons are high in social highveld and naked mole-rats, and low in solitary Cape mole-rats. The findings support that proliferation is regulated independently of average life expectancy and habitat. Instead, neuronal differentiation reflects species-specific demands, which appear lower in subterranean rodents.

  20. Ear Structures of the Naked Mole-Rat, Heterocephalus glaber, and Its Relatives (Rodentia: Bathyergidae.

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    Matthew J Mason

    Full Text Available Although increasingly popular as a laboratory species, very little is known about the peripheral auditory system of the naked mole-rat, Heterocephalus glaber. In this study, middle and inner ears of naked mole-rats of a range of ages were examined using micro-computed tomography and dissection. The ears of five other bathyergid species (Bathyergus suillus, Cryptomys hottentotus, Fukomys micklemi, Georychus capensis and Heliophobius argenteocinereus were examined for comparative purposes. The middle ears of bathyergids show features commonly found in other members of the Ctenohystrica rodent clade, including a fused malleus and incus, a synovial stapedio-vestibular articulation and the loss of the stapedius muscle. Heterocephalus deviates morphologically from the other bathyergids examined in that it has a more complex mastoid cavity structure, poorly-ossified processes of the malleus and incus, a 'columelliform' stapes and fewer cochlear turns. Bathyergids have semicircular canals with unusually wide diameters relative to their radii of curvature. How the lateral semicircular canal reaches the vestibule differs between species. Heterocephalus has much more limited high-frequency hearing than would be predicted from its small ear structures. The spongy bone forming its ossicular processes, the weak incudo-stapedial articulation, the columelliform stapes and (compared to other bathyergids reduced cochlear coiling are all potentially degenerate features which might reflect a lack of selective pressure on its peripheral auditory system. Substantial intraspecific differences were found in certain middle and inner ear structures, which might also result from relaxed selective pressures. However, such interpretations must be treated with caution in the absence of experimental evidence.

  1. Specific paucity of unmyelinated C-fibers in cutaneous peripheral nerves of the African naked-mole rat: comparative analysis using six species of Bathyergidae.

    Science.gov (United States)

    St John Smith, Ewan; Purfürst, Bettina; Grigoryan, Tamara; Park, Thomas J; Bennett, Nigel C; Lewin, Gary R

    2012-08-15

    In mammalian peripheral nerves, unmyelinated C-fibers usually outnumber myelinated A-fibers. By using transmission electron microscopy, we recently showed that the saphenous nerve of the naked mole-rat (Heterocephalus glaber) has a C-fiber deficit manifested as a substantially lower C:A-fiber ratio compared with other mammals. Here we determined the uniqueness of this C-fiber deficit by performing a quantitative anatomical analysis of several peripheral nerves in five further members of the Bathyergidae mole-rat family: silvery (Heliophobius argenteocinereus), giant (Fukomys mechowii), Damaraland (Fukomys damarensis), Mashona (Fukomys darlingi), and Natal (Cryptomys hottentotus natalensis) mole-rats. In the largely cutaneous saphenous and sural nerves, the naked mole-rat had the lowest C:A-fiber ratio (∼1.5:1 compared with ∼3:1), whereas, in nerves innervating both skin and muscle (common peroneal and tibial) or just muscle (lateral/medial gastrocnemius), this pattern was mostly absent. We asked whether lack of hair follicles alone accounts for the C-fiber paucity by using as a model a mouse that loses virtually all its hair as a consequence of conditional deletion of the β-catenin gene in the skin. These β-catenin loss-of function mice (β-cat LOF mice) displayed only a mild decrease in C:A-fiber ratio compared with wild-type mice (4.42 compared with 3.81). We suggest that the selective cutaneous C-fiber deficit in the cutaneous nerves of naked mole-rats is unlikely to be due primarily to lack of skin hair follicles. Possible mechanisms contributing to this unique peripheral nerve anatomy are discussed. Copyright © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

  2. Ear Structures of the Naked Mole-Rat, Heterocephalus glaber, and Its Relatives (Rodentia: Bathyergidae).

    Science.gov (United States)

    Mason, Matthew J; Cornwall, Hannah L; Smith, Ewan St J

    2016-01-01

    Although increasingly popular as a laboratory species, very little is known about the peripheral auditory system of the naked mole-rat, Heterocephalus glaber. In this study, middle and inner ears of naked mole-rats of a range of ages were examined using micro-computed tomography and dissection. The ears of five other bathyergid species (Bathyergus suillus, Cryptomys hottentotus, Fukomys micklemi, Georychus capensis and Heliophobius argenteocinereus) were examined for comparative purposes. The middle ears of bathyergids show features commonly found in other members of the Ctenohystrica rodent clade, including a fused malleus and incus, a synovial stapedio-vestibular articulation and the loss of the stapedius muscle. Heterocephalus deviates morphologically from the other bathyergids examined in that it has a more complex mastoid cavity structure, poorly-ossified processes of the malleus and incus, a 'columelliform' stapes and fewer cochlear turns. Bathyergids have semicircular canals with unusually wide diameters relative to their radii of curvature. How the lateral semicircular canal reaches the vestibule differs between species. Heterocephalus has much more limited high-frequency hearing than would be predicted from its small ear structures. The spongy bone forming its ossicular processes, the weak incudo-stapedial articulation, the columelliform stapes and (compared to other bathyergids) reduced cochlear coiling are all potentially degenerate features which might reflect a lack of selective pressure on its peripheral auditory system. Substantial intraspecific differences were found in certain middle and inner ear structures, which might also result from relaxed selective pressures. However, such interpretations must be treated with caution in the absence of experimental evidence.