Uneven frequency of Vibrio alginolyticus-group isolates among different populations of Galápagos marine iguana (Amblyrhynchus cristatus)


  • Places where the work was conducted: (a) ‘F. Valverde’ Laboratory (first screening and isolates collection); (b) Microbiology Laboratory, Biology Department, University of Rome Tor Vergata.

E-mail thaller@uniroma2.it; Tel. (+39) 06 72594021; Fax (+39) 06 2023500.


The presence of Vibrio isolates was investigated in cloacal swabs from the Galápagos marine iguana (Amblyrhyncus cristatus). Such unique iguana is endemic to the Galápagos Archipelago, it is listed as vulnerable in the IUCN Red List (2009), and is strictly protected by CITES and Ecuador laws. Our results revealed an uneven isolation frequency of vibrios from animals living in different settings: maximal among the Santa Fe population, scarce at Bahía Tortuga but practically absent in the samples from Puerto Ayora and Plaza Sur. A 16S sequencing confirmed that the isolates belonged to the genus Vibrio, placing them within the V. alginolyticus group; the biochemical identification was, indeed, consistent with V. alginolyticus features. The reason of the observed discrepancy is not clear, but could be either linked to a higher pollution in the inhabited or more touristic places or to differential influence of chemical and physical parameters at a local scale. As V. alginolyticus is an opportunistic pathogen for man and it is known to cause disease in sea-living animals, the ability of these vibrios to enter and persist to a certain extent in the marine iguana gut should be regarded as a risk for health of both the animals and the human personnel involved in monitoring activities.