A study shows the genetic differences between rats in the upper and middle zone living in Manhattan – tech2.org

A study shows the genetic differences between rats in the upper and middle zone living in Manhattan



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Credit: CC0 Public Domain

(Phys.org) – A small team of researchers from Fordham University and Providence College, both in the USA. UU., Has discovered that there are small but discernible genetic differences between rats that live in downtown Manhattan. In their article published in the journal Molecular Ecology the group describes the capture of rats from one end of the island to the other, performing genetic tests on them and delineating what they found.


The city of New York, like other major cities in the world, hosts a large population of rats, in this case, mainly brown rats. Most people who live there find it a problem, because in addition to being destructive and carrying diseases, they are also considered unpleasant. In this new effort, the researchers tried to learn more about the rats that live alone on the island of Manhattan, noting that little has been done to understand the rats that live there.

The study consisted of catching rats, moving from north to south on the island, cutting their tails, and using them as a source of DNA badysis, and then comparing the genomic results by geography.

Researchers report that the vast majority of rats were descendants of Western European rats, brought more into ships more than 200 years ago. But the badysis also revealed that the rats have been in the area long enough to have developed minor genetic differences based on where they lived. This, the team notes, was not particularly surprising because of the behavior of the rats: they rarely move away from home. It was also not surprising to see differences between the rats in the upper zone and in the city center: the two areas are separated by the commercial district, which is not particularly favorable for rats. Therefore, those who live in the high zone have little incentive to move to the center, or vice versa. Surprisingly, the badysis showed that there were even small differences between neighborhoods, each having its own different rats. Researchers could say, for example, looking at an individual rat profile, if they had resided in East or West Village.

The group plans to continue its study of urban rat populations, looking for patterns that can help urban planners reduce the number of rats, make cities safer and places less repugnant to live.


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More information:
Matthew Combs et al. Spatial population genomics of the brown rat (Rattus norvegicus) in the city of New York, Molecular Ecology (2017). DOI: 10.1111 / mec.14437

Abstract

Human commensal species, such as rodent pests, are often widely distributed between cities and threaten both infrastructure and public health. Spatially explicit genomic population methods provide information on the movements of cryptic pests that drive evolutionary connectivity at multiple spatial scales. We examined the spatial patterns of genome-wide neutral variation in brown rats (Rattus norvegicus) in Manhattan, New York (NYC) using 262 samples and 61,401 SNPs to understand: 1) the relationship between nearby individuals and the extent of genetic structure spatial in a discrete urban landscape; 2) the geographic origin of the New York rats, using a large set of previously published data from global rat genotypes; and 3) heterogeneity in the flow of genes through the city, particularly deviations from isolation by distance. We found that rats separated by ≤200 m exhibit strong spatial autocorrelation (r = 0.3, p = 0.001) and the effects of localized genetic drift extend to a range of 1400 m. Throughout Manhattan, the rats exhibited a homogeneous population origin of rats that probably invaded Britain. Although traditional approaches identified a single evolutionary group with clinal structure in Manhattan, recently developed methods (eg, FineSTRUCTURE, sPCA, EEMS) provided evidence of a reduced dispersion in the less residential region of the center of the island, resulting in in fine-scale genetic structuring (FST = 0.01) and two evolutionary groups (Uptown and Downtown Manhattan). Therefore, although some urban populations of human diners may appear to be continuously distributed, the heterogeneity of the landscape within the cities may generate differences in the quality and dispersion of the habitat, with implications for the spatial distribution of genomic variation, the management of the population and the study of widely distributed pests.

Journal reference:
Molecular ecology

© 2017 Phys.org

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