Dr. Franck Courchamp of France’s National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) explains why a reduction in meat consumption would be good for everyone, lists the catastrophic consequences of biological invasions, and suggests what could be done to protect giraffes.
We studied dynamic changes in anthropogenic bacterial communities at a summer−operated Czech research base (the Mendel Research Station) in the Antarctic during 2012 and 2013. We observed an increase in total numbers of detected bacteria between the beginning and the end of each stay in the Antarctic. In the first series of samples, bacteria of Bacillus sp. predominated. Surprisingly, high numbers of Gram−positive cocci and coli − forms were found (including opportunistic human pathogens), although the conditions for bacterial life were unfavourable (Antarctic winter). In the second series of samples, coliforms and Gram−positive cocci predominated. Dangerous human pathogens were also detected. Yersinia enterocolitica was identified as serotype O:9. Antibiotic susceptibility testing showed medium−to−high resistance rates to ampicillin, cefalotin, cefuroxime, amoxicillin−clavulanate and gentamicin in Enterobacteriaceae. 16S rRNA sequencing showed high rates of accordance between nucleotide sequences among the tested strains. Three conclusions were drawn: (1) Number of anthropogenic bacteria were able to survive the harsh conditions of the Antarctic winter (inside and outside the polar station). Under certain circumstances ( e.g. impaired immunity), the surviving bacteria might pose a health risk to the participants of future expeditions or to other visitors to the base. (2) The bacteria released into the outer environment might have impacts on local ecosystems. (3) New characteristics ( e.g. resistance to antibiotics) may be introduced into local bacterial communities.