Characterization of the gut microbiome and resistome of Galapagos marine iguanas (Amblyrhynchus cristatus) from uninhabited islands

Karla Vasco, Nataly Guevara, Juan Mosquera, Sonia Zapata, Lixin Zhang

Producción científica: Contribución a una revistaArtículorevisión exhaustiva


Background: Understanding the natural microbiome and resistome of wildlife from remote places is necessary to monitor the human footprint on the environment including antimicrobial use (AU). Marine iguanas are endemic species from the Galapagos Islands where they are highly affected by anthropogenic factors that can alter their microbiota as well as their abundance and diversity of antimicrobial-resistant genes (ARGs). Thus, this study aims to apply culture-independent approaches to characterize the marine iguana’s gut metagenomic composition of samples collected from the uninhabited islands Rabida (n = 8) and Fernandina (Cabo Douglas, n = 30; Punta Espinoza, n = 30). Fresh feces from marine iguanas were analyzed through SmartChip RT-PCR, 16S rRNA, and metagenomic next-generation sequencing (mNGS) to identify their microbiome, microbial-metabolic pathways, resistome, mobilome, and virulome. Results: The marine iguana’s gut microbiome composition was highly conserved despite differences in ecological niches, where 86% of taxa were shared in the three locations. However, site-specific differences were mainly identified in resistome, mobilome, virulorome, and metabolic pathway composition, highlighting the existence of factors that induce microbial adaptations in each location. Functional gut microbiome analyses revealed its role in the biosynthesis and degradation of vitamins, cofactors, proteinogenic amino acids, carbohydrates, nucleosides and nucleotides, fatty acids, lipids, and other compounds necessary for the marine iguanas. The overall bacterial ARG abundance was relatively low (0.006%); nevertheless, the presence of genes encoding resistance to 22 drug classes was identified in the iguana’s gut metagenome. ARG-carrying contig and co-occurrence network analyses revealed that commensal bacteria are the main hosts of ARGs. Taxa of public health interest such as Salmonella, Vibrio, and Klebsiella also carried multidrug-resistance genes associated with MGEs which can influence the dissemination of ARGs through horizontal gene transfer. Conclusion: Marine iguanas depend on the gut microbiome for the biosynthesis and degradation of several compounds through a symbiotic relationship. Niche-specific adaptations were evidenced in the pool of microbial accessory genes (i.e., ARGs, MGEs, and virulence) and metabolic pathways, but not in the microbiome composition. Culture-independent approaches outlined the presence of a diverse resistome composition in the Galapagos marine iguanas from remote islands. The presence of AR pathogens in marine iguanas raises concerns about the dispersion of microbial-resistant threats in pristine areas, highlighting wildlife as sentinel species to identify the impact of AU.

Idioma originalInglés
Número de artículo65
PublicaciónAnimal Microbiome
EstadoPublicada - dic. 2022


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