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Title:Investigating genetic vulnerability to chronic wasting disease in endangered cervid taxa
Author(s):Perrin-Stowe, Tolulope Naijali
Director of Research:Roca, Alfred
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Roca, Alfred
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Suarez, Andrew; Harmon-Threatt, Alexandra; Miller, David
Department / Program:School of Integrative Biology
Discipline:Ecol, Evol, Conservation Biol
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
chronic wasting disease
Abstract:Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE). TSEs are a group of progressive neurodegenerative diseases caused by prions. Prions are misfolded infectious proteins with a stable altered structure that allows them to induce conformational changes in normal proteins and make them infectious prions. As the infection spreads, it causes irreversible damage primarily in the brain and lymphoid tissues, and ultimately causes death. CWD is transmissible directly through the bodily fluids of infected animals, and can be shed into the environment as well as on a variety of manmade surfaces, which can potentially remain infectious for years. CWD has spread geographically across North America and has recently been identified in cervid populations in Eurasia. In light of this, efforts have increased to monitor and manage populations to reduce the spread of CWD. In various cervid species, genetic variants of PRNP, the prion gene, have been associated with either reduced or increased CWD susceptibility in exposed populations. In this thesis, I assess PRNP variation in endangered cervid taxa to identify polymorphisms that are potentially associated with differing vulnerability to CWD. In Chapter 1, I introduce the biological background and current status of CWD in cervids. In Chapter 2, I assess two white-tailed deer subspecies (Odocoileus virginianus clavium & O. v. leucurus) listed under the Endangered Species Act, to assess the potential vulnerability to the populations if exposed to CWD. CWD has been detected in other free-ranging subspecies of white-tailed deer and continues to spread geographically, making this investigation particularly pressing. In Chapter 3, I determine the PRNP polymorphisms of captive Pere David’s deer (Elaphurus davidianus), which are classified as extinct in the wild, and are kept in various captive breeding programs at zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and relate the findings to their management in captive populations. In chapter 4, I assess PRNP polymorphisms in endangered Eld’s deer (Rucervus eldii thamin), also held in captive breeding programs at zoos accredited by AZA, to determine their potential vulnerability to CWD. In this thesis, I investigate the genetics of CWD vulnerability in four cervid taxa of conservation concern. The findings in this thesis can be taken into consideration for the management of wild and captive cervids in regards to CWD.
Issue Date:2021-04-20
Rights Information:Copyright 2021 Tolulope Naijali Perrin-Stowe
Date Available in IDEALS:2021-09-17
Date Deposited:2021-05

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