Comparative ecology of Escherichia coli in endangered Australian sea lion (Neophoca cinerea) pups

Mariel Fulham, Michelle Power, Rachael Gray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

The dissemination of human-associated bacteria into the marine environment has the potential to expose wildlife populations to atypical microbes that can alter the composition of the gut microbiome or act as pathogens. The objective of the study was to determine whether endangered Australian sea lion (Neophoca cinerea) pups from two South Australian colonies, Seal Bay, Kangaroo Island and Dangerous Reef, Spencer Gulf, have been colonised by human-associated Escherichia coli. Faecal samples (n = 111) were collected to isolate E. coli, and molecular screening was applied to assign E. coli isolates (n = 94) to phylotypes and detect class 1 integrons; mobile genetic elements that confer resistance to antimicrobial agents. E. coli phylotype distribution and frequency differed significantly between colonies with phylotypes B2 and D being the most abundant at Seal Bay, Kangaroo Island (55% and 7%) and Dangerous Reef, Spencer Gulf (36% and 49%), respectively. This study reports the first case of antimicrobial resistant E. coli in free-ranging Australian sea lions through the identification of class 1 integrons from an individual pup at Seal Bay. A significant relationship between phylotype and total white cell count (WCC) was identified, with significantly higher WCC seen in pups with human-associated phylotypes at Dangerous Reef. The difference in phylotype distribution and presence of human-associated E. coli suggests that proximity to human populations can influence sea lion gut microbiota. The identification of antimicrobial resistance in a free-ranging pinniped population provides crucial information concerning anthropogenic influences in the marine environment.

LanguageEnglish
Pages262-269
Number of pages8
JournalInfection, Genetics and Evolution
Volume62
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018

Fingerprint

Sea Lions
pinniped
Otariidae
Ecology
pups
Escherichia coli
ecology
reef
seals
Integrons
Macropodidae
marine environment
reefs
Islands
Pinnipedia
Cell Count
anti-infective agents
Interspersed Repetitive Sequences
Population
pathogen

Keywords

  • Neophoca cinerea
  • Escherichia coli
  • antimicrobial resistance
  • Uncinaria sanguinis

Cite this

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abstract = "The dissemination of human-associated bacteria into the marine environment has the potential to expose wildlife populations to atypical microbes that can alter the composition of the gut microbiome or act as pathogens. The objective of the study was to determine whether endangered Australian sea lion (Neophoca cinerea) pups from two South Australian colonies, Seal Bay, Kangaroo Island and Dangerous Reef, Spencer Gulf, have been colonised by human-associated Escherichia coli. Faecal samples (n = 111) were collected to isolate E. coli, and molecular screening was applied to assign E. coli isolates (n = 94) to phylotypes and detect class 1 integrons; mobile genetic elements that confer resistance to antimicrobial agents. E. coli phylotype distribution and frequency differed significantly between colonies with phylotypes B2 and D being the most abundant at Seal Bay, Kangaroo Island (55{\%} and 7{\%}) and Dangerous Reef, Spencer Gulf (36{\%} and 49{\%}), respectively. This study reports the first case of antimicrobial resistant E. coli in free-ranging Australian sea lions through the identification of class 1 integrons from an individual pup at Seal Bay. A significant relationship between phylotype and total white cell count (WCC) was identified, with significantly higher WCC seen in pups with human-associated phylotypes at Dangerous Reef. The difference in phylotype distribution and presence of human-associated E. coli suggests that proximity to human populations can influence sea lion gut microbiota. The identification of antimicrobial resistance in a free-ranging pinniped population provides crucial information concerning anthropogenic influences in the marine environment.",
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Comparative ecology of Escherichia coli in endangered Australian sea lion (Neophoca cinerea) pups. / Fulham, Mariel; Power, Michelle; Gray, Rachael.

In: Infection, Genetics and Evolution, Vol. 62, 08.2018, p. 262-269.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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