A lack of knowledge of naturally occurring pathogens is limiting our ability to use the Antarctic to study the impact human-mediated introduction of infectious microorganisms have on this relatively uncontaminated environment. As no large-scale coordinated effort to remedy this lack of knowledge has taken place, we rely on smaller targeted efforts to both study present microorganisms and monitor the environment for introductions. In one such effort, we isolated Campylobacter species from fecal samples collected from wild birds in the Antarctic Peninsula and the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia. Indeed, in South Georgia, we found Campylobacter lari and the closely related Campylobacter peloridis, but also distantly related human-associated multilocus sequence types of Campylobacter jejuni. In contrast, in the Antarctic Peninsula, we found C. lari and two closely related species, Campylobacter subantarcticus and Campylobacter volucris, but no signs of human introduction. In fact, our finding of human-associated sequence types of C. jejuni in South Georgia, but not in the Antarctic Peninsula, suggests that efforts to limit the spread of infectious microorganisms to the Antarctic have so far been successful in preventing the introduction of C. jejuni. However, we do not know how it came to South Georgia and whether the same mode of introduction could spread it from there to the Antarctic Peninsula.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
- General Agricultural and Biological Sciences