Vultures from different trophic guilds show distinct oral pathogenic yeast signatures and co-occurrence networks

Sci Total Environ. 2020 Jun 25:723:138166. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.138166. Epub 2020 Mar 23.


Vultures have evolved adaptive mechanisms to prevent infections associated with their scavenging lifestyle. However, food-borne exposure to antimicrobial pharmaceuticals can promote opportunistic infections with adverse outcomes. Here, we used multivariate and network analyses to increase understanding of the behavior of the yeast communities causing oral mycosis outbreaks recently reported in wild nestling cinereous (Aegypius monachus), griffon (Gyps fulvus) and Egyptian (Neophron percnopterus) vultures (CV, GV and EV, respectively) exposed to antibiotics from livestock farming. Common and unique yeast signatures (of Candida, Debaromyces, Diutina, Meyerozyma, Naganishia, Pichia, Rhodotorula, Trichosporon and Yarrowia species) associated with oral mycoses were identified in the three vulture species. Hierarchical clustering analysis (HCA) and principal component analysis (PCA) highlighted that oral lesions from CV and GV shared similar yeast signatures (of major causative pathogens of opportunistic mycoses, such as Candida albicans, Candida parapsilosis and Candida tropicalis), while EV had a distinct yeast signature (of uncommon pathogenic species, such as Candida dubliniensis, Candida zeylanoides, Pichia fermentans and Rhodotorula spp.). Synergistic interactions between yeast species from distinct fungal phyla were found in lesions from CV and GV, but not in EV. These formed co-occurrence subnetworks with partially or fully connected topology. This study reveals that the composition, assembly and co-occurrence patterns of the yeast communities causing oral mycoses differ between vulture species with distinct feeding habits and scavenging lifestyles. Yeast species widely pathogenic to humans and animals, and yeast co-occurrence relationships, are distinctive hallmarks of oral mycoses in CV and GV. These vulture species are more exposed to antibiotics from intensively medicated livestock carcasses provided in supplementary feeding stations and show higher incidence of thrush-like oral lesions than EV. These findings may be useful for development of new initiatives or changes in the conservation of these avian scavengers affected by anthropogenic activities.

Keywords: Antimicrobials; Candidiasis; Livestock; Microbial signature; Scavengers; Yeast species.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Birds*
  • Egypt
  • Humans
  • Livestock
  • Yeasts*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents