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Recent studies have identified a phenomenon in which ciliated protozoa engulf Salmonella and the intra-protozoal environment hyperactivates virulence gene expression and provides a venue for conjugal transfer of antibiotic resistance plasmids. The former observation is relegated to Salmonella bearing the SGI1 multiresistance integron while the latter phenomenon appears to be a more generalized event for recipient Salmonella. Our previous studies have assessed virulence gene hyperexpression only with protozoa from the bovine rumen while conjugal transfer has been demonstrated in rumen protozoa from cattle and goats. The present study examined virulence gene hyperexpression for Salmonella exposed to rumen protozoa obtained from cattle, sheep, goats, or two African ruminants (giraffe and bongo). Conjugal transfer was also assessed in these protozoa using Salmonella as the recipient. Virulence gene hyperexpression was only observed following exposure to the rumen protozoa from cattle and sheep while elevated virulence was also observed in these animals. Conjugal transfer events were, however, observed in all protozoa evaluated. It therefore appears that the protozoa-based hypervirulence is not universal to all ruminants while conjugal transfer is more ubiquitous.
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Brewer, Matt T.; Xiong, Nalee; Dier, Jeffery D.; Anderson, Kristi L.; Rasmussen, Mark A.; Franklin, Sharon K.; and Carlson, Steve A., "Comparisons of Salmonella conjugation and virulence gene hyperexpression mediated by rumen protozoa from domestic and exotic ruminants" (2011). Biomedical Sciences Publications. 31.