DAO 65:99-105 (2005)  -  doi:10.3354/dao065099

Comparison of Helicobacter spp. genetic sequences in wild and captive seals, and gulls

Andrew P. A. Oxley1,3,*, David B. McKay2

1National Marine Science Centre, Coffs Harbour, New South Wales 2450, Australia
2The Faculty of Science, University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore D.C., Queensland 4558, Australia
3Present address: Department of Primary Industries, RMB 1145 Chiltern Valley Road, Rutherglen, Victoria 3685, Australia

ABSTRACT: Helicobacter species are widely distributed in the gastrointestinal system of humans and many animal taxa. Investigations of natural infections are essential to elucidating their role within the host. The feces of fur seals Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus and sea lions Neophoca cinerea from 3 separate captive populations, as well as a wild colony from Kangaroo Island, Australia, were examined for the occurrence of Helicobacter spp. The feces from several wild silver gulls Larus novahollandiae were also investigated. As detected by PCR, 18 of 21 samples from captive and 12 of 16 samples from wild seals were positive for Helicobacter spp. Three species were identified in these animals. Whilst one possibly novel type was identified from wild fur seals, the majority of wild and captive individuals had the same species. This species also occurred in more than 1 seal type and in silver gulls, and shared a 98.1 to 100% identity to other Helicobacter spp. from harp seals and sea otters. A similar sequence type to species identified from cetaceans was also detected in several captive seals. This study reports for the first time the presence of Helicobacter spp. in wild and captive seals and demonstrates the diversity and broad-host range of these organisms in the marine host.


KEY WORDS: Helicobacter · Natural reservoir · Wild and captive seals · Sea birds


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