Natures wonders: Vulture gut microbiome (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Tuesday, December 02, 2014, 02:50 (2049 days ago) @ David Turell

Protects them from foul bugs that can kill in the carrion they eat:

:Carrion luggage
"The microbes that do thrive in vultures' guts are dominated by two types of bacterium: Clostridia (which often produce toxins, including the one that causes botulism) and Fusobacteria, some of which are flesh-eating. Hansen says that the birds could be immune to these pathogens and the toxins they produce or, alternatively, vultures might fill their guts with harmless relatives of pathogenic Clostridia and Fusobacteria, which have lost the genes that cause disease. "They kind of work like a probiotic. They occupy the same niches that the pathogens would,” says Hansen. His team plans to do more in-depth DNA sequencing of the vulture microbiome to determine the answer.

"Last year, a study of the gut microbiome of alligators, also carrion eaters, found high levels of the same two bacteria. “I don't think it's coincidence,” says Sarah Keenan, a geobiologist at Saint Louis University in Missouri who led that study. ”The fact that both of these vertebrates are scavengers, and they're eating things that are likely to be partially decomposed — that suggests they've developed this microbiome that allows them to thrive.”"

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