Thursday , September 16 2021

Key human action for antibiotic resistance in Galapagos giant turtles

Human action, key to antibiotic resistance in giant Galapagos turtles

Giant Galapagos Turtles migrating. Credit: Juan Manuel García

Giant Galapagos turtles that live in contact with human farming and tourism activities, or in urbanized areas, have more bacterial resistance to antibiotics than those that live in isolated ecosystems.

This is the main conclusion of the research published in Environmental Pollution in which the Universidad Complutense de Madrid participated together with the Charles Darwin Foundation (FCD), the Institute for the Conservation of Medicine of the Saint Louis Zoo (ICM), the Center for Health Research of the -Animals (INIA-CISA) and the European University of Madrid.

Ainoa Nieto, lead author, ICM / FCD researcher and practical learning collaborator and doctoral student at UCM, explains the new information provided by the study: “Human activities are facilitating the spread of environmental resistance, which has already been observed in other parts of the world, but which has never been seen in the Galapagos Islands. “

Antibiotic resistance is one of the major threats to public health on the planet. The WHO estimates that by 2050 it may be leading to more deaths from cancer, diabetes or traffic accidents. The discovery of these bacteria in the Galapagos archipelago for the first time turns them into environmental injectors and turtles into potential “sentinels or bioindicators” of ecosystem health.

PCR to identify genes and bacteria

To conduct the study, samples were taken from 270 turtles in 2018 and 2019 at two locations with different characteristics in the Galapagos Islands: the island of Santa Cruz, which has the largest human population, and the a remote volcano of Alcedo on the island of Isabela.

Resistance analyzes were performed at the INIA-CISA laboratory in Madrid using a new methodology that allows the detection of resistance genes without the need to cultivate bacteria, using real-time PCR reactions. This technique helps identify the genes and also the number of bacteria with resistant genes that are present in a sample. In total, 21 genes encoding resistance to eight of the most widely used families of antibiotics in human and animal medicine were analyzed.

“We don’t know the real implications this discovery could have for the health of giant turtles, but resistance is seen as environmental pollution, and the fact that iconic species like the Galapagos turtles are entering contact with these resistant bacteria implies that the ecosystem they live in is being contaminated, ”explains Casilda Rodríguez, a researcher in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at UCM.

Nietopoints indicates that antibiotics can be purchased in the Galapagos without a prescription, for both human and veterinary use. Authorities do not restrict their use, as happens in Spain or other countries in the world.

The Galapagos island takes 36 giant turtles in danger

More information:
Ainoa Nieto-Claudin et al, Antimicrobial resistance in Galapagos turtles as an indicator of the growing human mark, Environmental Pollution (2021). DOI: 10.1016 / j.envpol.2021.117453

Provided by the Complutense University of Madrid

Citation: Key human action for antibiotic resistance in giant Galapagos turtles (2021, 19 July) retrieved 19 July 2021 from action-key-antibiotic-resistance.html

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