Estimation of Cultivable Bacterial Diversity in the Cloacae and Pharynx in Eurasian Griffon Vultures (Gyps fulvus)

A. I. Vela, E. Casas-Díaz, J. F. Fernández-Garayzábal, E. Serrano, S. Agustí, M. C. Porrero, V. Sánchez del Rey, I. Marco, S. Lavín, L. Domínguez

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© 2014, Springer Science+Business Media New York. In this work, we describe the biodiversity of cloacal and pharynx culture-based bacteria (commensal and pathogenic), in 75 Eurasian griffon vultures (Gyps fulvus) from two geographic areas. We address the question of whether the cultivable microbiota of vultures is organised into assemblages occurring by chance. In addition, we assess bacterial diversity in both anatomic regions and geographic areas. Bacterial diversity was represented by 26 Gram-negative and 20 Gram-positive genera. The most common genera were Escherichia, Enterococcus, Staphylococcus, Clostridium and Lactococcus. Escherichia coli and Enterococcus faecalis were the most common species in cloacal and pharyngeal samples. Staphylococcus and Erysipelothrix were isolated from the pharynx and Salmonella and Corynebacterium from the cloacae, and no Campylobacter was isolated from the cloacal swabs. Ten cloacal swabs were positive for Salmonella, of which five isolates were Salmonella enterica serotype 4,(5),12:i:-, one isolate was S. enterica serotype Derby, three isolates were S. enterica serotype 61:k:1,5,7 and one isolate was S. enterica serotype Infantis. The null modelling approach revealed that the commensal bacteria of vultures are not structured in assemblages. On the other hand, differences in bacterial genus and species richness between cloacal and pharyngeal samples or between geographic areas were clear, with the pharynx in vultures from both geographic areas being richer. The results of this study indicate also that vultures can serve as a reservoir of certain pathogenic zoonotic bacteria. The dissemination of these zoonotic pathogens in wildlife could be prevented by periodic sanitary surveys.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)597-607
JournalMicrobial Ecology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • Bacteria richness
  • Cloacae
  • Griffon vultures
  • Pharynx
  • Species evenness


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