Ulm (dpa) – nectar-eating bats on traditionally managed banana farms have a low diversity of gut microbes. This is what a research team from the University of Ulm reported in the journal “Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution” after investigations in Costa Rica in Central America. So it remains unclear to what extent altered intestinal flora has consequences for the health of animals. Research should also be done to see if pesticides are the cause of the changes.
The finding could point to what’s called intestinal dysplasia, an unhealthy abnormality in microbial symbionts, explained first author Priscilla Albizar. It is associated with poor health, such as increased susceptibility to disease. In humans, according to researchers, a diet rich in fast food can cause dysplasia by reducing the number of bacteria in the gut. The current study is now one of the first to show a similar effect in wild animals. Using stool samples, the scientists examined the intestinal flora of flowering bats (Glossophaga soricina), which were foraging for nectar either in traditionally managed banana monocultures, on organic banana plantations or in the forest. Low intestinal flora has been found only in animals on industrially managed monocultures. Bats foraging on organic farms had diverse intestinal flora similar to those of flowering bats roaming the forest.
In general, cultivated bats were on average larger and heavier, the researchers wrote. Both organic and conventional banana monocultures have been a very reliable food source for some species of nectar-eating bats.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 210926-99-362733 / 2