Cultivable Skin Mycobiota of Healthy and Diseased Blind Cave Salamander (Proteus anguinus)
ABSTRACT: Proteus anguinus is a neotenic cave salamander, endemic to the Dinaric Karst and a symbol of world natural heritage. It is classified as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and is one of the EU priority species in need of strict protection. Due to inaccessibility of their natural underground habitat, scientific studies of the olm have been conducted mainly in captivity, where the amphibians are particularly susceptible to opportunistic microbial infections. In this report, we focused on the diversity of cultivable commensal fungi isolated from the skin of asymptomatic and symptomatic animals obtained from nature (20 specimens) and captivity (22 specimens), as well as from underground water of two karstic caves by direct water filtration and by exposure of keratin-based microbial baits and subsequent isolation from them. In total 244 fungal isolates were recovered from the animals and additional 153 isolates were obtained from water samples. Together, these isolates represented 87 genera and 166 species. Symptomatic animals were colonized by a variety of fungal species, most of them represented by a single isolate, including genera known for their involvement in chromomycosis, phaeohyphomycosis and zygomycosis in amphibians: Acremonium, Aspergillus, Cladosporium, Exophiala, Fusarium, Mucor, Ochroconis, Phialophora and Penicillium. One symptomatic specimen sampled from nature was infected by the oomycete Saprolegnia parasitica, the known causative agent of saprolegniosis. This is the first comprehensive report on cultivable skin mycobiome of this unique amphibian in nature and in captivity, with an emphasis on potentially pathogenic fungi and oomycetes.
Project description:Wild-caught animals must cope with drastic lifestyle and dietary changes after being induced to captivity. How the gut microbiome structure of these animals will change in response receives increasing attention. The plateau zokor (<i>Eospalax baileyi</i>), a typic subterranean rodent endemic to the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, spends almost the whole life underground and is well adapted to the environmental pressures of both plateau and underground. However, how the gut microbiome of the plateau zokor will change in response to captivity has not been reported to date. This study compared the microbial community structure and functions of 22 plateau zokors before (the WS group) and after being kept in captivity for 15 days (the LS group, fed on carrots) using the 16S rRNA gene via high-throughput sequencing technology. The results showed that the LS group retained 973 of the 977 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) in the WS group, and no new OTUs were found in the LS group. The dominant bacterial phyla were Bacteroides and Firmicutes in both groups. In alpha diversity analysis, the Shannon, Sobs, and ACE indexes of the LS group were significantly lower than those of the WS group. A remarkable difference (<i>P</i> < 0.01) between groups was also detected in beta diversity analysis. The UPGMA clustering, NMDS, PCoA, and Anosim results all showed that the intergroup difference was significantly greater than the intragroup difference. And compared with the WS group, the intragroup difference of the gut microbiota in the LS group was much larger, which failed to support the assumption that similar diets should drive convergence of gut microbial communities. PICRUSt revealed that although some functional categories displayed significant differences between groups, the relative abundances of these categories were very close in both groups. Based on all the results, we conclude that as plateau zokors enter captivity for a short time, although the relative abundances of different gut microbiota categories shifted significantly, they can maintain almost all the OTUs and the functions of the gut microbiota in the wild. So, the use of wild-caught plateau zokors in gut microbial studies is acceptable if the time in captivity is short.
Project description:As part of an ongoing effort to catalog spore-forming bacterial populations in environments conducive to interplanetary transfer by natural impacts or by human spaceflight activities, spores of Bacillus spp. were isolated and characterized from the interior of near-subsurface granite rock collected from the Santa Catalina Mountains, AZ. Granite was found to contain approximately 500 cultivable Bacillus spores and approximately 10(4) total cultivable bacteria per gram. Many of the Bacillus isolates produced a previously unreported diffusible blue fluorescent compound. Two strains of eight tested exhibited increased spore UV resistance relative to a standard Bacillus subtilis UV biodosimetry strain. Fifty-six isolates were identified by repetitive extragenic palindromic PCR (rep-PCR) and 16S rRNA gene analysis as most closely related to B. megaterium (15 isolates), B. simplex (23 isolates), B. drentensis (6 isolates), B. niacini (7 isolates), and, likely, a new species related to B. barbaricus (5 isolates). Granite isolates were very closely related to a limited number of Bacillus spp. previously found to inhabit (i) globally distributed endolithic sites such as biodeteriorated murals, stone tombs, underground caverns, and rock concretions and (ii) extreme environments such as Antarctic soils, deep sea floor sediments, and spacecraft assembly facilities. Thus, it appears that the occurrence of Bacillus spp. in endolithic or extreme environments is not accidental but that these environments create unique niches excluding most Bacillus spp. but to which a limited number of Bacillus spp. are specifically adapted.
Project description:Host-associated microbiomes perform many beneficial functions including resisting pathogens and training the immune system. Here, we show that amphibians developing in captivity lose substantial skin bacterial diversity, primarily due to reduced ongoing input from environmental sources. We combined studies of wild and captive amphibians with a database of over 1 000 strains that allows us to examine antifungal function of the skin microbiome. We tracked skin bacterial communities of 62 endangered boreal toads, Anaxyrus boreas, across 18 time points, four probiotic treatments, and two exposures to the lethal fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) in captivity, and compared these to 33 samples collected from wild populations at the same life stage. As the amphibians in captivity lost the Bd-inhibitory bacteria through time, the proportion of individuals exposed to Bd that became infected rose from 33% to 100% in subsequent exposures. Inoculations of the Bd-inhibitory probiotic Janthinobacterium lividum resulted in a 40% increase in survival during the second Bd challenge, indicating that the effect of microbiome depletion was reversible by restoring Bd-inhibitory bacteria. Taken together, this study highlights the functional role of ongoing environmental inputs of skin-associated bacteria in mitigating a devastating amphibian pathogen, and that long-term captivity decreases this defensive function.
Project description:Leeches can parasitize many vertebrate taxa. In amphibians, leech parasitism often has potential detrimental effects including population decline. Most of studies on the host-parasite interactions involving leeches and amphibians focus on freshwater environments, while they are very scarce for terrestrial amphibians. In this work, we studied the relationship between the leech <i>Batracobdella algira</i> and the European terrestrial salamanders of the genus <i>Hydromantes,</i> identifying environmental features related to the presence of the leeches and their possible effects on the hosts. We performed observation throughout Sardinia (Italy), covering the distribution area of all <i>Hydromantes</i> species endemic to this island. From September 2015 to May 2017, we conducted >150 surveys in 26 underground environments, collecting data on 2629 salamanders and 131 leeches. Water hardness was the only environmental feature correlated with the presence of <i>B. algira</i>, linking this leech to active karstic systems. Leeches were more frequently parasitizing salamanders with large body size. Body Condition Index was not significantly different between parasitized and non-parasitized salamanders. Our study shows the importance of abiotic environmental features for host-parasite interactions, and poses new questions on complex interspecific interactions between this ectoparasite and amphibians.
Project description:Emerging fungal and oomycete pathogens are increasingly threatening animals and plants globally. Amongst oomycetes, Saprolegnia species adversely affect wild and cultivated populations of amphibians and fish, leading to substantial reductions in biodiversity and food productivity. With the ban of several chemical control measures, new sustainable methods are needed to mitigate Saprolegnia infections in aquaculture. Here, PhyloChip-based community analyses showed that the Pseudomonadales, particularly Pseudomonas species, represent one of the largest bacterial orders associated with salmon eggs from a commercial hatchery. Among the Pseudomonas species isolated from salmon eggs, significantly more biosurfactant producers were retrieved from healthy salmon eggs than from Saprolegnia-infected eggs. Subsequent in vivo activity bioassays showed that Pseudomonas isolate H6 significantly reduced salmon egg mortality caused by Saprolegnia diclina. Live colony mass spectrometry showed that strain H6 produces a viscosin-like lipopeptide surfactant. This biosurfactant inhibited growth of Saprolegnia in vitro, but no significant protection of salmon eggs against Saprolegniosis was observed. These results indicate that live inocula of aquatic Pseudomonas strains, instead of their bioactive compound, can provide new (micro)biological and sustainable means to mitigate oomycete diseases in aquaculture.
Project description:Shot-gun sequencing of DNA isolated from the environment and the assembly of metagenomes from the resulting data has considerably advanced the study of microbial diversity. However, the subsequent matching of these hypothetical metagenomes to cultivable microorganisms is a limitation of such cultivation-independent methods of population analysis. Using a nucleotide sequence-based genetic typing method, multilocus sequence typing, we were able for the first time to match clonal cultivable isolates to a published and controversial bacterial metagenome, Burkholderia SAR-1, which derived from analysis of the Sargasso Sea. The matching cultivable isolates were all associated with infection and geographically widely distributed; taxonomic analysis demonstrated they were members of Burkholderia cepacia complex Group K. Comparison of the Burkholderia SAR-1 metagenome to closely related B. cepacia complex genomes indicated that it was greater than 98% intact in terms of conserved genes, and it also shared complete sequence identity with the cultivable isolates at random loci beyond the genes sampled by the multilocus sequence typing. Two features of the extant cultivable clones support the argument that the Burkholderia SAR-1 sequence may have been a contaminant in the original metagenomic survey: (i) their growth in conditions reflective of sea water was poor, suggesting the ocean was not their preferred habitat, and (ii) several of the matching isolates were epidemiologically linked to outbreaks of infection that resulted from contaminated medical devices or products, indicating an adaptive fitness of this bacterial strain towards contamination-associated environments. The ability to match identical cultivable strains of bacteria to a hypothetical metagenome is a unique feature of nucleotide sequence-based microbial typing methods; such matching would not have been possible with more traditional methods of genetic typing, such as those based on pattern matching of genomic restriction fragments or amplified DNA fragments. Overall, we have taken the first steps in moving the status of the Burkholderia SAR-1 metagenome from a hypothetical entity towards the basis for life of cultivable strains that may now be analysed in conjunction with the assembled metagenomic sequence data by the wider scientific community.
Project description:Bacteria degrading algal polysaccharides are key players in the global carbon cycle and in algal biomass recycling. Yet the water column, which has been studied largely by metagenomic approaches, is poor in such bacteria and their algal-polysaccharide-degrading enzymes. Even more surprisingly, the few published studies on seaweed-associated microbiomes have revealed low abundances of such bacteria and their specific enzymes. However, as macroalgal cell-wall polysaccharides do not accumulate in nature, these bacteria and their unique polysaccharidases must not be that uncommon. We, therefore, looked at the polysaccharide-degrading activity of the cultivable bacterial subpopulation associated with Ascophyllum nodosum. From A. nodosum triplicates, 324 bacteria were isolated and taxonomically identified. Out of these isolates, 78 (~25%) were found to act on at least one tested algal polysaccharide (agar, ?- or ?-carrageenan, or alginate). The isolates "active" on algal-polysaccharides belong to 11 genera: Cellulophaga, Maribacter, Algibacter, and Zobellia in the class Flavobacteriia (41) and Pseudoalteromonas, Vibrio, Cobetia, Shewanella, Colwellia, Marinomonas, and Paraglaceciola in the class Gammaproteobacteria (37). A major part represents likely novel species. Different proportions of bacterial phyla and classes were observed between the isolated cultivable subpopulation and the total microbial community previously identified on other brown algae. Here, Bacteroidetes and Gammaproteobacteria were found to be the most abundant and some phyla (as Planctomycetes and Cyanobacteria) frequently encountered on brown algae weren't identified. At a lower taxonomic level, twelve genera, well-known to be associated with algae (with the exception for Colwellia), were consistently found on all three A. nosodum samples. Even more interesting, 9 of the 11 above mentioned genera containing polysaccharolytic isolates were predominant in this common core. The cultivable fraction of the bacterial community associated with A. nodosum is, thus, significantly enriched in macroalgal-polysaccharide-degrading bacteria and these bacteria seem important for the seaweed holobiont even though they are under-represented in alga-associated microbiome studies.
Project description:Marine microorganisms and their extracellular enzymes (ECEs) play an important role in the remineralization of organic material by hydrolyzing high-molecular-weight substrates to sizes sufficiently small to be transported through cell membrane, yet the diversity of the enzyme-producing bacteria and the types of ECEs involved in the degradation process are largely unknown. In this work, we investigated the diversity of cultivable bacteria and their ECEs and the potential activities of aminopeptidase in the water column at eight different depths of the New Britain Trench. There was a great diversity of cultivable bacteria and ECEs, and depth appears an important driver of the diversity. The 16S rRNA sequence analysis revealed that the cultivable bacteria were affiliated mostly with the phyla Proteobacteria and Actinobacteria, and the predominant genera were Pseudoalteromonas (62.7%) and Halomonas (17.3%). Moreover, 70.7% of the isolates were found to produce hydrolytic zone on casein and gelatin plates, in which Pseudoalteromonas was the predominant group, exhibiting relatively high protease production. Inhibitor analysis showed that the extracellular proteases from the isolated bacteria were serine proteases in the surface water and metalloproteases in the deep water. Meanwhile, the Vmax and Km of aminopeptidase exhibited a maximum in the surface water and low values in the deep bathy- and abyssopelagic water, indicating lower rates of hydrolysis and higher substrate affinity in the deeper waters. These results shed new insights into the diversity of the cultivable bacteria and bacterial ECEs and their likely biogeochemical functions in the trench environment.
Project description:Examining the way in which animals, including those in captivity, interact with their environment is extremely important for studying ecological processes and developing sophisticated animal husbandry. Here we use the Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis) to quantify the degree of sharing of salivary, skin, and fecal microbiota with their environment in captivity. Both species richness and microbial community composition of most surfaces in the Komodo dragon's environment are similar to the Komodo dragon's salivary and skin microbiota but less similar to the stool-associated microbiota. We additionally compared host-environment microbiome sharing between captive Komodo dragons and their enclosures, humans and pets and their homes, and wild amphibians and their environments. We observed similar host-environment microbiome sharing patterns among humans and their pets and Komodo dragons, with high levels of human/pet- and Komodo dragon-associated microbes on home and enclosure surfaces. In contrast, only small amounts of amphibian-associated microbes were detected in the animals' environments. We suggest that the degree of sharing between the Komodo dragon microbiota and its enclosure surfaces has important implications for animal health. These animals evolved in the context of constant exposure to a complex environmental microbiota, which likely shaped their physiological development; in captivity, these animals will not receive significant exposure to microbes not already in their enclosure, with unknown consequences for their health. IMPORTANCE Animals, including humans, have evolved in the context of exposure to a variety of microbial organisms present in the environment. Only recently have humans, and some animals, begun to spend a significant amount of time in enclosed artificial environments, rather than in the more natural spaces in which most of evolution took place. The consequences of this radical change in lifestyle likely extend to the microbes residing in and on our bodies and may have important implications for health and disease. A full characterization of host-microbe sharing in both closed and open environments will provide crucial information that may enable the improvement of health in humans and in captive animals, both of which experience a greater incidence of disease (including chronic illness) than counterparts living under more ecologically natural conditions.
Project description:Animals and plants are increasingly suffering from diseases caused by fungi and oomycetes. These emerging pathogens are now recognized as a global threat to biodiversity and food security. Among oomycetes, Saprolegnia species cause significant declines in fish and amphibian populations. Fish eggs have an immature adaptive immune system and depend on nonspecific innate defences to ward off pathogens. Here, meta-taxonomic analyses revealed that Atlantic salmon eggs are home to diverse fungal, oomycete and bacterial communities. Although virulent Saprolegnia isolates were found in all salmon egg samples, a low incidence of Saprolegniosis was strongly correlated with a high richness and abundance of specific commensal Actinobacteria, with the genus Frondihabitans (Microbacteriaceae) effectively inhibiting attachment of Saprolegniato salmon eggs. These results highlight that fundamental insights into microbial landscapes of fish eggs may provide new sustainable means to mitigate emerging diseases.