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Drug-resistant bacteria found in the intestines of lemuriformes that live around humans

Antibiotic-resistant bacterial genes have been found in the intestines of captive and wild lemuriformes in Madagascar and the United States. The more animals come into contact with humans, the more resistant bacteria inhabit them. Credit: Sally Bornbusch

Antibiotic resistance, which the CDC calls one of the most urgent public health crises in the world, is now found in the gut of our distant primate cousin, the lemur.


With a new study appearing in the journal on August 9th Ecology and evolution frontier, Duke researchers have found evidence of antibiotic resistance to the microbiome of lemuriformes living near humans. And the closer they were in contact, the more antibiotic resistance they found.

Research team graduate student Sally Bournebush and Duke University professor of evolutionary anthropology Christine Drea sampled ring-tailed lemur dung. gene Among all the microorganisms found there, we are looking for genetic markers of antibiotic resistance.

Study compared 10 Lemur Population: 7 people Wild population In Madagascar, there are two from the research facility, the Lemur Rescue Center in Madagascar and the Duke Lemur Center in the United States, and finally a group of lemuriformes kept as pets in Madagascar.

of Wild animals, The average ratio of resistance genes in the intestinal microflora was close to zero. However, in laboratory animals, the proportion was more than 25 times higher than in wild lemurs. In pet lemurs, the proportion was almost 35 times.

Some of this can be due to proper veterinary care. Lemurs living in the research facility are treated for infectious diseases as needed, Antibiotics Than their wild cousins.

However, pet lemurs, which are unlikely to be treated by a veterinarian, were the most abundant in antibiotic resistance genes.

Because it is illegal to keep lemurs as pets in Madagascar, it is unlikely that lemurs owners will take these animals to a veterinarian and there is a risk of facing legal consequences. Therefore, these pet lemurs acquire antibiotic-resistant microorganisms simply by sharing the environment with humans. livestock..

Ring-tailed lemurs are omnivorous animals that eat everything they can get, including soil and excrement. At home, they are often in constant contact with humans, sitting on the owner’s shoulders, or in the arms of tourists who are willing to pay for photographs (harmful to both humans and animals). Practice).

Bornbusch said that this physical and social environment clearly contributes to the antibiotic resistance of pet lemuriformes.

“Microbes are like blankets that cover everything. Microbes are found not only in our intestines, but also in our skin, furniture, and our food and water,” Bornbusch said. “They are always and everywhere and are easily transmitted between environments.”

Among wild lemuriformes, antibiotic resistance varied along the gradient of human activity. Animals in areas affected by cattle grazing, agriculture, or tourism had more antibiotic-resistant microbes than animals in a more pristine environment, but still far more than fox monkeys that live close to humans. there’s only a little.

“Antibiotic treatment is clearly not the only mechanism that results in more abundant resistance genes in these animals,” Bournebush said.

In fact, even among the lemurs housed in the research facility, lemurs who had not previously received antibiotic treatment had a similar number of lemurs. Antibiotic resistance A gene compared to a lemur in the same facility that has been treated for infections many times.

Human proximity also determined the type of resistance gene acquired. The Madagascar ring-tailed lemur microbiota showed signs of resistance to antibiotics used to combat plague outbreaks, while US lemurs showed resistance to antibiotics frequently prescribed in North America. ..

Antibiotic resistance genes are not new. Microorganisms have mutated and evolved resistance genes for millions of years in an arms race with naturally occurring antibiotics.

In natural scenarios, this process rarely causes problems. But things started to get worse when humans harnessed the power of naturally occurring antibiotics to open up artificial antibiotics to the public.

“Human came in, developed antibiotics, spread them around us, and propagated these resistance genes to the natural environment and wildlife microbiota,” Bournebush said. Although harsh, these results can have a positive impact on conservation and wildlife management practices.

“These results are a bit scary, but they can help us use microbiota science to hone our veterinary practice and conservation efforts,” says Bornbusch. She also said that more research is needed to better understand the effects of these resistance genes on wildlife.

“Currently, we know that these resistance genes are present, but we don’t know if they are really harmful to lemurs,” Bornbusch said. “These results provide a foothold for studying the effects of these resistant microorganisms on wildlife and their environment.”


Duke University receives two endangered lemurs from Madagascar


For more information:
Sally L. Bornbusch et al, Antibiotic resistance genes in lemur intestinal and soil microflora along a gradient of artificial disturbance, Ecology and evolution frontier (2021). DOI: 10.3389 / fevo.2021.704070

Quote: Drug-resistant bacteria found in the intestines of Remur living around humans (August 9, 2021) are https: //phys.org/news/2021-08-drug-resistance-bacteria-guts-lemurs- Obtained from on August 9, 2021. humans.html

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Drug-resistant bacteria found in the intestines of lemuriformes that live around humans

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