DAO 116:83-91 (2015)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02917

Pathogen surveillance in wild bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus

Crystal Jaing1,*, James B. Thissen1, Shea Gardner2, Kevin McLoughlin2, Tom Slezak2, Gregory D. Bossart3, Patricia A. Fair4

1Physical & Life Sciences Directorate, 2Computations Directorate, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA 94551, USA
3Georgia Aquarium, NW Atlanta, GA 30313, USA
4NOAA/National Ocean Service, Center for Coastal Environmental Health & Biomolecular Research, Charleston, SC 29412, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The number and prevalence of diseases is rapidly increasing in the marine ecosystem. Although there is an increase in the number of marine diseases observed world-wide, current understanding of the pathogens associated with marine mammals is limited. An important need exists to develop and apply platforms for rapid detection and characterization of pathogenic agents to assess, prevent and respond to disease outbreaks. In this study, a broad-spectrum molecular detection technology capable of detecting all sequenced microbial organisms, the Lawrence Livermore Microbial Detection Array, was used to assess the microbial agents that could be associated with wild Atlantic dolphins. Blowhole, gastric, and fecal samples from 8 bottlenose dolphins were collected in Charleston, SC, as part of the dolphin assessment effort. The array detected various microbial agents from the dolphin samples. Clostridium perfringens was most prevalent in the samples surveyed using the microarray. This pathogen was also detected using microbiological culture techniques. Additionally, Campylobacter sp., Staphylococcus sp., Erwinia amylovora, Helicobacter pylori, and Frankia sp. were also detected in more than one dolphin using the microarray, but not in culture. This study provides the first survey of pathogens associated with 3 tissue types in dolphins using a broad-spectrum microbial detection microarray and expands insight on the microbial community profile in dolphins.

KEY WORDS: Diagnostics · Microarray · Microbial community · Molecular detection · Marine diseases · Microbiological culture

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Cite this article as: Jaing C, Thissen JB, Gardner S, McLoughlin K, Slezak T, Bossart GD, Fair PA (2015) Pathogen surveillance in wild bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus. Dis Aquat Org 116:83-91. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02917

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