Worldwide, bacteria are the most ubiquitous microorganisms, and it has been extensively demonstrated that migratory wild birds can increase bacterial global scale dispersion through long-distance migration and dispersal. The microbial community hosted by wild birds can be highly diverse, including pathogenic strains that can contribute to infections and disease spread. This study focused on feather and plumage bacteria within bird microbial communities. Samples were collected during ornithological activities in a bird ringing station. Bacterial identification was carried out via DNA barcoding of the partial 16S rRNA gene. Thirty-seven isolates of bacteria were identified on the chest feathers of 60 migratory birds belonging to three trans-Saharan species: Muscicapa striata
, Hippolais icterina
, and Sylvia borin
. Our results demonstrate the possibility of bacterial transfer, including pathogens, through bird migration between very distant countries. The data from the analysis of plumage bacteria can aid in the explanation of phenomena such as migratory birds’ fitness or the development of secondary sexual traits. Moreover, these results have deep hygienic–sanitary implications, since many bird species have synanthropic behaviors during their migration that increase the probability of disease spread.
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