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Reptiles as Reservoirs of Bacterial Infections: Real Threat or Methodological Bias?

Zancolli, G. and Mahsberg, D. and Sickel, W. and Keller, A. (2015) Reptiles as Reservoirs of Bacterial Infections: Real Threat or Methodological Bias? Microbial Ecology, 70 (3). pp. 579-584. DOI: 10.1007/s00248-015-0618-3

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Abstract

Bacterial infections secondary to snakebites and human pathogens (e.g., Salmonella) have been linked to the oral microbiota of snakes and pet reptiles. Based on culture-dependent studies, it is speculated that snakes' oral microbiota reflects the fecal flora of their ingested preys. However, cultured-based techniques have been shown to be limited as they fail to identify unculturable microorganisms which represent the vast majority of the microbial diversity. Here, we used culture-independent high-throughput sequencing to identify reptile-associated pathogens and to characterize the oral microbial community of five snakes, one gecko, and two terrapins. Few potential human pathogens were detected at extremely low frequencies. Moreover, bacterial taxa represented in the snake's oral cavity bore little resemblance to their preys' fecal microbiota. Overall, we found distinct, highly diverse microbial communities with consistent, species-specific patterns contrary to previous culture-based studies. Our study does not support the widely held assumption that reptiles' oral cavity acts as pathogen reservoir and provides important insights for future research

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Research Publications
Departments: College of Natural Sciences > School of Biological Sciences
Date Deposited: 05 Nov 2015 04:46
Last Modified: 05 Nov 2015 04:46
ISSN: 0095-3628
URI: http://e.bangor.ac.uk/id/eprint/5817
Identification Number: DOI: 10.1007/s00248-015-0618-3
Publisher: Springer
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