Occurrence, diversity, and host association of intestinal Campylobacter, Arcobacter, and Helicobacter in reptiles

Maarten J. Gilbert, Marja Kik, Arjen J. Timmerman, Tim T. Severs, Johannes G. Kusters, Birgitta Duim, Jaap A. Wagenaar

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27 Citations (Scopus)


Campylobacter, Arcobacter, and Helicobacter species have been isolated from many vertebrate hosts, including birds, mammals, and reptiles. Multiple studies have focused on the prevalence of these Epsilonproteobacteria genera in avian and mammalian species. However, little focus has been given to the presence within reptiles, and their potential zoonotic and pathogenic roles. In this study, occurrence, diversity, and host association of intestinal Epsilonproteobacteria were determined for a large variety of reptiles. From 2011 to 2013, 444 cloacal swabs and fecal samples originating from 417 predominantly captive-held reptiles were screened for Epsilonproteobacteria. Campylobacter, Arcobacter , and Helicobacter genus specific PCRs were performed directly on all samples. All samples were also cultured on selective media and screened for the presence of Epsilonproteobacteria. Using a tiered approach of AFLP, atpA, and 16S rRNA sequencing, 432 Epsilonproteobacteria isolates were characterized at the species level. Based on PCR, Campylobacter, Arcobacter, and Helicobacter were detected in 69.3% of the reptiles; 82.5% of the chelonians, 63.8% of the lizards, and 58.0% of the snakes were positive for one or more of these genera. Epsilonproteobacteria were isolated from 22.1% of the reptiles and were isolated most frequently from chelonians (37.0%), followed by lizards (19.6%) and snakes (3.0%). The most commonly isolated taxa were Arcobacter butzleri, Arcobacter skirrowii, reptile-associated Campylobacter fetus subsp. testudinum, and a putative novel Campylobacter taxon. Furthermore, a clade of seven related putative novel Helicobacter taxa was isolated from lizards and chelonians. This study shows that reptiles carry various intestinal Epsilonproteobacteria taxa, including several putative novel taxa.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere101599
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2014

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