Predictors and immunological correlates of sublethal mercury exposure in vampire bats

Becker, D. J., Chumchal, M. M., Bentz, A. B., Platt, S. G., Czirják, G. Á., Rainwater, T. R., Altizer, S. and Streicker, D. G. (2017) Predictors and immunological correlates of sublethal mercury exposure in vampire bats. Royal Society Open Science, 4(4), 170073. (doi:10.1098/rsos.170073) (PMID:28484633) (PMCID:PMC5414270)

[img]
Preview
Text
141304.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

812kB

Abstract

Mercury (Hg) is a pervasive heavy metal that often enters the environment from anthropogenic sources such as gold mining and agriculture. Chronic exposure to Hg can impair immune function, reducing the ability of animals to resist or recover from infections. How Hg influences immunity and susceptibility remains unknown for bats, which appear immunologically distinct from other mammals and are reservoir hosts of many pathogens of importance to human and animal health. We here quantify total Hg (THg) in hair collected from common vampire bats (Desmodus rotundus), which feed on blood and are the main reservoir hosts of rabies virus in Latin America. We examine how diet, sampling site and year, and bat demography influence THg and test the consequences of this variation for eight immune measures. In two populations from Belize, THg concentrations in bats were best explained by an interaction between long-term diet inferred from stable isotopes and year. Bats that foraged more consistently on domestic animals exhibited higher THg. However, relationships between diet and THg were evident only in 2015 but not in 2014, which could reflect recent environmental perturbations associated with agriculture. THg concentrations were low relative to values previously observed in other bat species but still correlated with bat immunity. Bats with higher THg had more neutrophils, weaker bacterial killing ability and impaired innate immunity. These patterns suggest that temporal variation in Hg exposure may impair bat innate immunity and increase susceptibility to pathogens such as bacteria. Unexpected associations between low-level Hg exposure and immune function underscore the need to better understand the environmental sources of Hg exposure in bats and the consequences for bat immunity and susceptibility.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Streicker, Dr Daniel
Authors: Becker, D. J., Chumchal, M. M., Bentz, A. B., Platt, S. G., Czirják, G. Á., Rainwater, T. R., Altizer, S., and Streicker, D. G.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Infection Immunity and Inflammation
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Life Sciences
Journal Name:Royal Society Open Science
Publisher:The Royal Society
ISSN:2054-5703
ISSN (Online):2054-5703
Published Online:19 April 2017
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 The Authors
First Published:First published in Royal Society Open Science 4(4): 170073
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record

Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
634192Managing viral emergence at the interface of bats and livestockDaniel StreickerWellcome Trust (WELLCOTR)102507/Z/13/ZRI BIODIVERSITY ANIMAL HEALTH & COMPMED