Feces collected at several different sites from free-living reptiles harbored Escherichia coli bacteria that were resistant to ampicillin, doxycycline, tetracycline and trimethoprin/sulfamethoxazole.
Another bacterial species collected from the feces, Salmonella enterica, was found to be only mildly resistant or not resistant at all to the same antibiotics, most likely because of the differing ecology of these two bacterial species in the gut, researchers said.The study results are reported in the Journal of Wildlife Diseases.
“Oceanic island systems such as the Galápagos archipelago are ideal for studying patterns and processes of ecology and evolution, such as antibiotic resistance,” Mackie said. “Although the data are interesting, we don’t have enough data to identify the likely source of antibiotic exposure and origin of the resistance genes, or to draw conclusions about transmission direction.”
Also, it is not yet clear “to what extent this potential exposure translates to ongoing exchange of bacterial strains or bacterial traits,” the researchers wrote. Further studies are needed “to understand better how human associations influence disease risk in endemic Galápagos wildlife.”The work was carried out by Emily Wheeler as part of her doctoral studies in Mackie’s lab, and was supported by a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency STAR Fellowship and a student research grant from the Conservation Medicine Center of Chicago. Postdoctoral researcher Pei-Ying Hong and field biologist Lenin Cruz Bedon, of Isla Santa Cruz, Galápagos, are co-authors on the study.
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