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Impact of urban environment and host phenotype on the epidemiology of Chlamydiaceae in feral pigeons (Columba livia)


Erin,  N.
Research Group Parasitology, Department Evolutionary Ecology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

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Gasparini, J., Erin, N., Bertin, C., Jacquin, L., Vorimore, F., Frantz, A., et al. (2011). Impact of urban environment and host phenotype on the epidemiology of Chlamydiaceae in feral pigeons (Columba livia). Environmental Microbiology, 13(12), 3186-3193. doi:10.1111/j.1462-2920.2011.02575.x.

Chlamydiaceae are obligate intracellular Gram-negative bacteria found all over the world and known to cause various forms of disease in animals and humans. Urban pigeons are known to be an important reservoir of Chlamydia psittaci, the agent of human psittacosis. In this study, we examined the influence of pigeon houses used to regulate pigeon populations and of melanin-based coloration on several epidemiological parameters of Chlamydiaceae in 708 urban pigeons in Paris. We also identified species and genotypes of Chlamydiaceae present in Parisian populations. First, our results revealed that pigeons roosting and breeding in pigeon houses were equally infected by Chlamydiaceae as those that did not. Second, we found that dark melanic pigeons excreted more Chlamydiaceae than pale melanic ones. Finally, species and strain diversities were very low: all samples were of C. psittaci genotype B. Nevertheless, two atypical Chlamydiaceae were identified based on 16S rRNA and ompA sequences. Our study thus highlights the importance of considering environmental and host phenotype when investigating the epidemiology of infectious diseases.