A1 Journal article (refereed)
Minor environmental concentrations of antibiotics can modify bacterial virulence in co-infection with a non-targeted parasite (2018)

Sundberg, L.-R., & Karvonen, A. (2018). Minor environmental concentrations of antibiotics can modify bacterial virulence in co-infection with a non-targeted parasite. Biology Letters, 14(12), Article 0663. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2018.0663

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Publication details

All authors or editors: Sundberg, Lotta-Riina; Karvonen, Anssi

Journal or series: Biology Letters

ISSN: 1744-9561

eISSN: 1744-957X

Publication year: 2018

Volume: 14

Issue number: 12

Article number: 0663

Publisher: Royal Society

Publication country: United Kingdom

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2018.0663

Research data link: http://dx.doi.org/10.5061/dryad.g07kg88

Publication open access: Not open

Publication channel open access:


Leakage of medical residues into the environment can significantly impact natural communities. For example, antibiotic contamination from agriculture and aquaculture can directly influence targeted pathogens, but also other non-targeted taxa of commensals and parasites that regularly co-occur and co-infect the same host. Consequently, antibiotics could significantly alter interspecific interactions and epidemiology of the co-infecting parasite community. We studied how minor environmental concentrations of antibiotic affects the co-infection of two parasites, the bacterium Flavobacterium columnare and the fluke Diplostomum pseudospathaceum, in their fish host. We found that antibiotic in feed, and particularly the minute concentration in water, significantly decreased bacterial virulence and changed the infection success of the flukes. These effects depended on the level of antibiotic resistance of the bacterial strains. Antibiotic, however, did not compensate for the higher virulence of co-infections. Our results demonstrate that even very low environmental concentrations of antibiotic can influence ecology and epidemiology of diseases in co-infection with non-targeted parasites. Leakage of antibiotics into the environment may thus have more complex effects on disease ecology than previously anticipated.

Keywords: antibiotics; environmental effects; bacteria; virulence; infections; parasites; trematoda

Free keywords: co-infection; parasite

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Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2018

JUFO rating: 2

Last updated on 2021-16-11 at 15:01