Beginning in 2006, wild juvenile African Penguins (Spheniscus demersus) began to prematurely lose their juvenile feathers without immediate regrowth and were brought to the South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) for rehabilitation5. Without immediate regrowth of feathers, energy is shunted away from growth and used for thermoregulation and metabolism. It has previously been hypothesized that potential viral and bacterial infections may be causing this disorder3,4. To test for this, Avian Polyomavirus (APV) nucleic acids, Budrigars Beak and Feather Disease Virus (BFDV) nucleic acids, and any bacterial nucleic acids were attempted to be isolated from the blood of affected penguins. Blood was drawn from affected and non-affected African Penguins at SANCCOB and stored in 70% ethanol. These samples were collected in 2008 and 2010. The samples were shipped to St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY during the winter of 2011. Nucleic acids were then extracted from the blood using a QIAamp Blood DNA Mini. After confirmation of DNA via gel electrophoresis, PCR was performed using 2X OneTaq Megamix, water, and primers specific to the targeted viral and bacterial DNA. Gel electrophoresis was run on the PCR products. If DNA was observed at an expected range, then the PCR product was purified using a QIAquick PCR Purification Kit using the protocol included. The purified samples were sent to ATCG, Inc. for sequencing. The results were analyzed using NCBI BLAST. To date, six sequencing samples have shown the prevalence of APV, BFDV, and/or bacteria in the blood of affected penguins.
Mele, Stephen; Picardo, Kristin F.; Cunningham, Gregory B.; and Hurd, Daryl D., "The Isolation and Identification of a Causative Agent of the Feather Disorder Found in African Penguins (Spheniscus demersus)" (2012). Biology Faculty Publications. Paper 15.
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