New insights into the gut microbiome in loggerhead sea turtles Caretta caretta stranded on the Mediterranean coast

Vincenzo Arizza, Luca Vecchioni, Santo Caracappa, Giulia Sciurba, Flavia Berlinghieri, Antonio Gentile, Maria Flaminia Persichetti, Marco Arculeo, Rosa Alduina

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44 Citations (Scopus)
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Caretta caretta is the most common sea turtle species in the Mediterranean Sea. The species is threatened by anthropomorphic activity that causes thousands of deaths and hundreds of strandings along the Mediterranean coast. Stranded turtles are often cared for in rehabilitation centres until they recover or die. The objective of this study was to characterize the gut microbiome of nine sea turtles stranded along the Sicilian coast of the Mediterranean Sea using high-throughput sequencing analysis targeting V3–V4 regions of the bacterial 16S rRNA gene. Stool samples were collected from eight specimens hosted in the recovery centre after a few days of hospitalization (under 7) and from one hosted for many weeks (78 days). To better explore the role of bacterial communities in loggerhead sea turtles, we compared our data with published fecal microbiomes from specimens stranded along the Tuscan and Ligurian coast. Our results highlight that, despite the different origin, size and health conditions of the animals, Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes and Proteobacteria constitute the main components of the microbiota. This study widens our knowledge on the gut microbiome of sea turtles and could be helpful for the set up of rehabilitation therapies of stranded animals after recovery in specialized centres.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0220329
Number of pages14
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 14-Aug-2019


  • gut
  • microbiome
  • loggerhead
  • caretta caretta
  • mediterranean
  • bacteria
  • DIET

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