It has long been known that seabirds die from plastic because they mistake plastic droppings floating in the water for food and gobble them up. But it appears that even small plastic particles can harm animals, say researchers led by Gloria Fackelmann from the University of Ulm. In the journal “Nature Ecology & Evolution” to report. Microplastics, that is, particles smaller than five millimeters, change the composition of the microbiome in the gut of birds: the number of bacteria beneficial to the health of birds decreases. In contrast, the amount of harmful microbes increases.
For the study, which was also her doctoral thesis, Fackelman examined 85 dead fulmar seabirds. (Vulmarus glacialis)originating from Baffin Bay between Canada and Greenland, and the shear waters of the Currie (Calonycris borealis) From the Portuguese archipelago in the Azores. Both types of animals roam the high seas and feed on marine creatures such as crabs and fish. Fackelmann took samples from the cloaca – the sexual and excretory organ – as well as the glandular stomach, and then determined the composition of the contents with the help of genetic analyses. The result: the more dormant plastic particles in a bird’s digestive tract, the fewer health-promoting bacteria are found, and the more antibiotic-resistant, plastic-resistant pathogens or microbes settle in the gut.
In this way, Fackelmann was able to identify the pathogenic bacteria of the species Corynebacterium drier prove. I also noticed an increase in Parphemonas– The appearance of bacteria when a lot of microplastics accumulate in the digestive system of birds. According to the researchers, the microbe is an indicator of the development of colon cancer, but in humans. was also detected Cetobacterium be resistant to some antibiotics. Especially dangerous C. perfringens The bacteria can cause necrotizing enteritis in birds, which is an infectious disease of the intestines that is usually fatal.
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