Mycoplasmas in Australian fur seals (Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus) : identification and association with abortion
journal contributionposted on 2011-11-01, 00:00 authored by Michael Lynch, T Taylor, P Duignan, J Swingler, M Marenda, John ArnouldJohn Arnould, R Kirkwood
Bacteria from the genus Mycoplasma are common inhabitants of the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and genital tracts of mammals. The understanding of the pathological significance of mycoplasmas in seals is poor, as few studies have utilized the specific culture techniques required to isolate these bacteria. The current study surveyed for the Mycoplasma species present in Australian fur seals (Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus) and investigated the association between infection and pathology. Mycoplasmas were found in the nasal cavities of 55/80 (69%) of apparently healthy individuals. Isolates from 18 individuals were investigated through 16S ribosomal RNA sequencing, and 3 species were identified: M. zalophi, M. phocae, and Mycoplasma sp. (GenBank no. EU714238.1), all of which had previously been isolated from Northern Hemisphere pinnipeds. In addition, mycoplasmas were isolated from the lungs of 4 out of 16 juveniles and 1 out of 5 adults sampled at necropsy. Isolates obtained were M. zalophi, Mycoplasma sp. EU714238.1, and M. phocicerebrale, but infection was not associated with lung pathology in these age classes. Inflammatory disease processes of the heart and/or lungs were present in 12 out of 32 (38%) aborted fetuses on microscopic examination. Predominant findings were interstitial pneumonia, pericarditis, and myocarditis. Mycoplasma phocicerebrale was isolated from the thymus of an aborted fetus, and 3 out of 11 (27%) fetuses with inflammatory heart or lung lesions were PCR-positive for Mycoplasma. In conclusion, several species of Mycoplasma are part of the normal flora of the nasal cavity of Australian fur seals, and some mycoplasmas may be associated with abortion in this species of seal.