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Deathly drool: evolutionary and ecological basis of septic bacteria in Komodo dragon mouths

Bull, J.J., Jessop, Tim S. and Whiteley, Marvin 2010, Deathly drool: evolutionary and ecological basis of septic bacteria in Komodo dragon mouths, PLoS one, vol. 5, no. 6, pp. 1-7, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0011097.

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Title Deathly drool: evolutionary and ecological basis of septic bacteria in Komodo dragon mouths
Author(s) Bull, J.J.
Jessop, Tim S.ORCID iD for Jessop, Tim S. orcid.org/0000-0002-7712-4373
Whiteley, Marvin
Journal name PLoS one
Volume number 5
Issue number 6
Article ID e11097
Start page 1
End page 7
Total pages 7
Publisher PLoS
Place of publication San Francisco, Calif.
Publication date 2010-06-21
ISSN 1932-6203
Keyword(s) Animal Feed
Animals
Bacteria
Bacterial Physiological Phenomena
Biological Evolution
Disease Outbreaks
Ecological and Environmental Phenomena
Lizards
Models, Biological
Mouth
Sepsis
Sialorrhea
Summary Komodo dragons, the world's largest lizard, dispatch their large ungulate prey by biting and tearing flesh. If a prey escapes, oral bacteria inoculated into the wound reputedly induce a sepsis that augments later prey capture by the same or other lizards. However, the ecological and evolutionary basis of sepsis in Komodo prey acquisition is controversial. Two models have been proposed. The "bacteria as venom" model postulates that the oral flora directly benefits the lizard in prey capture irrespective of any benefit to the bacteria. The "passive acquisition" model is that the oral flora of lizards reflects the bacteria found in carrion and sick prey, with no relevance to the ability to induce sepsis in subsequent prey. A third model is proposed and analyzed here, the "lizard-lizard epidemic" model. In this model, bacteria are spread indirectly from one lizard mouth to another. Prey escaping an initial attack act as vectors in infecting new lizards. This model requires specific life history characteristics and ways to refute the model based on these characteristics are proposed and tested. Dragon life histories (some details of which are reported here) prove remarkably consistent with the model, especially that multiple, unrelated lizards feed communally on large carcasses and that escaping, wounded prey are ultimately fed on by other lizards. The identities and evolutionary histories of bacteria in the oral flora may yield the most useful additional insights for further testing the epidemic model and can now be obtained with new technologies.
Language eng
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0011097
Field of Research MD Multidisciplinary
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2010, The Authors
Free to Read? Yes
Use Rights Creative Commons Attribution licence
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30081778

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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.