Isolation of culturable aerobic bacteria and evidence of Kerstersia gyiorum from the blowhole of captive Yangtze finless porpoises
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Bacterial respiratory illnesses are problematic in aquatic mammals such as the Yangtze finless porpoise (Neophocaena asiaeorientalis asiaeorientalis; YFP), which is now at a critically endangered status. Yet little is known about the bacteria inhabiting the respiratory tract of YFPs. In this study, we preliminarily characterized the culturable aerobic bacteria from blow samples of captive YFPs. The bacterial diversity was assessed through cultivation by direct exhalation onto Columbia blood agar plates and identification of representative isolates through 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis. In total, eleven bacterial species belonging to four phyla Proteobacteria (71 %), Firmicutes (25 %), Bacteroidetes (3 %) and Actinobacteria (1 %) were identified. Most of these isolates were opportunistic pathogens found in respiratory illnesses in humans and animals. We also reported the first case of Kerstersia gyiorum isolated from an animal. This work provides a preliminary assessment of the bacteria present in the respiratory tract of captive YFPs, which will be an important first step in elucidating the roles of normal microbiota in maintaining respiratory health of YFPs. This study also points out the necessity of future long-term monitoring of blowhole microorganisms in the YFPs and making emergency preparedness plans for respiratory tract infections. These measures can aid in assessing the pathogenic risk of the critically endangered YFP populations.
KeywordsBacteria Blowhole Kerstersia gyiorum Yangtze finless porpoise
We are grateful to the trainers of Wuhan Baiji Dolphinarium for collecting blowhole samples. Special gratitude to Dr. William Wade and the anonymous reviewers for their valuable suggestions for improving the manuscript. This work was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 31430080 and 31000168), the Experimental Platform Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (No. CZBZX-1), and the Special Conservation Fund for the Yangtze finless porpoise from the Ministry of Agriculture of China.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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