Cunha, M.V., Albuquerque, T., Themudo, P., Fonseca, C., Bandeira, V. & Rosalino, L.M. (2020) The gut microbiota of the egyptian mongoose as an early warning indicator of ecosystem health in Portugal.International Journal of Environmental Research & Public Health, 17(9), 3104. DOI:10.3390/ijerph17093104 (IF2020 3,390; Q2 Environmental Sciences)
The Egyptian mongoose is a carnivore mammal species that in the last decades experienced a tremendous expansion in Iberia, particularly in Portugal, mainly due to its remarkable ecological plasticity in response to land-use changes. However, this species may have a disruptive role on native communities in areas where it has recently arrived due to predation and the potential introduction of novel pathogens. We report reference information on the cultivable gut microbial landscape of widely distributed Egyptian mongoose populations (Herpestes ichneumon, n = 53) and related antimicrobial tolerance across environmental gradients. The panel of isolated species is consistent with the typical protein-based diet of a carnivore: Firmicutes predominate (89% of individuals), while Clostridiales, Enterobacteriales, and Lactobacillales are the major classes. Forty-one individuals (77.4%) harbour Clostridium spp. A spatial influence on mongooses’ microbiota is confirmed by nonmetric multidimensional scaling analysis, with a significant contribution of municipality to their microbiota composition. Antimicrobial susceptibility testing of mongoose commensal bacteria to 28 compounds evidences xenobiotic tolerance of Escherichia coli (E. coli), enterococci, Salmonella Spartel and Mbandaka serotypes and Pseudomonas bacteria, among others. The common isolation of antimicrobial tolerant microbiota from the mongoose’s gut suggests this species is exposed to anthropogenic influence and is affected by forestry and agricultural-related practices, reflecting its easy adaptation to ecological gradients across agroecosystems. We thus propose regular microbial and phenotypic resistance profiling of widely distributed mongooses as a sentinel tool for xenobiotics’ lifecycle and ecosystem health in Portugal.