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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 50(6)

Mycobiota as acute and chronic cloacal contaminants of female sea turtles

A. D. Phillott, C. J. Parmenter, C. J. Limpus and K. M. Harrower

Australian Journal of Zoology 50(6) 687 - 695
Published: 30 December 2002


To determine the potential for intra-oviductal contamination of sea turtle eggs with fungi accumulated during nesting, turtles were sampled for cloacal fungi. Pre-gravid females had a low incidence (17%) of cloacal fungi (Acremonium, Cladosporium, Penicillium). A higher occurrence (30%) of these same fungi in courting animals, that had not bred for ≥2 years, was probably the result of transfer during intromission. Nesting (75%) and inter-nesting (100%) turtles had the greatest occurrence and diversity of cloacal fungi (Acremonium, Aspergillus, Chrysosporium, Fusarium, Mucor, Penicillium, Phialophora, Sporothrix, Stachybotrys). The incidence of cloacal fungi rapidly decreased after nesting, to 28% within one year (Acremonium, Penicillium) and 13% in animals that bred at least two years earlier (Acremonium, Cladosporium, Penicillium). The other species of fungi are probably lost during defaecation.

If fungal spores can be transported and maintained in the sea turtle oviduct by the same mechanisms as for spermatozoa, acute intra-seasonal contamination of eggs by fungi may be possible. The potential for chronic inter-seasonal contamination of the oviduct appears to be low.

Full text doi:10.1071/ZO01057

© CSIRO 2002

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