Project description:Amphibians are known to possess a wide variety of compounds stored in their skin glands. While significant progress has been made in understanding the chemical diversity and biological relevance of alkaloids, amines, steroids, and peptides, most aspects of the odorous secretions are completely unknown. In this study, we examined sexual variations in the volatile profile from the skin of the tree frog Boana prasina and combined culture and culture-independent methods to investigate if microorganisms might be a source of these compounds. We found that sesquiterpenes, thioethers, and methoxypyrazines are major contributors to the observed sex differences. We also observed that each sex has a distinct profile of methoxypyrazines, and that the chemical origin of these compounds can be traced to a Pseudomonas sp. strain isolated from the frog's skin. This symbiotic bacterium was present in almost all individuals examined from different sites and was maintained in captive conditions, supporting its significance as the source of methoxypyrazines in these frogs. Our results highlight the potential relevance of bacteria as a source of chemical signals in amphibians and contribute to increasing our understanding of the role that symbiotic associations have in animals.
Project description:Symbiotic microbes can dramatically impact host health and fitness, and recent research in a diversity of systems suggests that different symbiont community structures may result in distinct outcomes for the host. In amphibians, some symbiotic skin bacteria produce metabolites that inhibit the growth of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), a cutaneous fungal pathogen that has caused many amphibian population declines and extinctions. Treatment with beneficial bacteria (probiotics) prevents Bd infection in some amphibian species and creates optimism for conservation of species that are highly susceptible to chytridiomycosis, the disease caused by Bd. In a laboratory experiment, we used Bd-inhibitory bacteria from Bd-tolerant Panamanian amphibians in a probiotic development trial with Panamanian golden frogs, Atelopus zeteki, a species currently surviving only in captive assurance colonies. Approximately 30% of infected golden frogs survived Bd exposure by either clearing infection or maintaining low Bd loads, but this was not associated with probiotic treatment. Survival was instead related to initial composition of the skin bacterial community and metabolites present on the skin. These results suggest a strong link between the structure of these symbiotic microbial communities and amphibian host health in the face of Bd exposure and also suggest a new approach for developing amphibian probiotics.
Project description:Symbiotic bacteria and mucosal immunoglobulins have co-evolved for millions of years in vertebrate animals. Symbiotic bacteria products are known to modulate different aspects of the host immune system. We recently reported that Flectobacillus major is a predominant species that lives in the gill and skin mucosal surfaces of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). F. major is known to produce sphingolipids of a unique molecular structure. Here we propose a role for F. major and its sphingolipids in the regulation of B cell populations in rainbow trout, as well as an essential role for sphingolipids in trout mucosal homeostasis. We found that F. major-specific IgT titers are confined to the gill and skin mucus, whereas F. major-specific IgM titers are only detected in serum. Live F. major cells are able to stimulate sustained IgT expression and secretion in gills. F. major sphingolipids modulate the growth of trout total skin and gill symbiotic bacteria. In vivo systemic administration of F. major sphingolipids changes the proportion of IgT+ to IgM+ B cells in trout HK. These results demonstrate the key role of the symbiont F. major and its sphingolipids in mucosal homeostasis via the modulation of mucosal and systemic Igs and B cells.
Project description:Six new Micarea species are described from Europe. Phylogenetic analyses, based on three loci, i.e. mtSSU rDNA, Mcm7 and ITS rDNA and ancestral state reconstructions, were used to evaluate infra-group divisions and the role of secondary metabolites and selected morphological characters on the taxonomy in the M. prasina group. Two main lineages were found within the group. The Micarea micrococca clade consists of twelve species, including the long-known M. micrococca and the newly described M. microsorediata, M. nigra and M. pauli. Within this clade, most species produce methoxymicareic acid, with the exceptions of M. levicula and M. viridileprosa producing gyrophoric acid. The M. prasina clade includes the newly described M. azorica closely related to M. prasina s.str., M. aeruginoprasina sp. nov. and M. isidioprasina sp. nov. The species within this clade are characterised by the production of micareic acid, with the exception of M. herbarum which lacks any detectable substances and M. subviridescens that produces prasinic acid. Based on our reconstructions, it was concluded that the ancestor of the M. prasina group probably had a thallus consisting of goniocysts, which were lost several times during evolution, while isidia and soredia evolved independently at multiple times. Our research supported the view that the ancestor of M. prasina group did not produce any secondary substances, but they were gained independently in different lineages, such as methoxymicareic acid which is restricted to M. micrococca and allied species or micareic acid present in the M. prasina clade.
Project description:Deforestation has detrimental consequences on biodiversity, affecting species interactions at multiple scales. The associations among vertebrates, pathogens and their commensal/symbiotic microbial communities (i.e. microbiomes) have important downstream effects for biodiversity conservation, yet we know little about how deforestation contributes to changes in host microbial diversity and pathogen abundance. Here, we tested the effects of landcover, forest connectivity and infection by the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) on amphibian skin bacterial diversity along deforestation gradients in Brazilian landscapes. If disturbance to natural habitat alters skin microbiomes as it does in vertebrate host communities, then we would expect higher host bacterial diversity in natural forest habitats. Bd infection loads are also often higher in these closed-canopy forests, which may in turn impact skin-associated bacterial communities. We found that forest corridors shaped composition of host skin microbiomes; high forest connectivity predicted greater similarity of skin bacterial communities among host populations. In addition, we found that host skin bacterial diversity and Bd loads increased towards natural vegetation. Because symbiotic bacteria can potentially buffer hosts from Bd infection, we also evaluated the bi-directional microbiome-Bd link but failed to find a significant effect of skin bacterial diversity reducing Bd infections. Although weak, we found support for Bd increasing bacterial diversity and/or for core bacteria dominance reducing Bd loads. Our research incorporates a critical element in the study of host microbiomes by linking environmental heterogeneity of landscapes to the host-pathogen-microbiome triangle.
Project description:Amphibians possess innate immune defences, including antimicrobial peptides and symbiotic bacterial communities, that can protect them from infectious diseases, including chytridiomycosis. On-going research is attempting to use amphibian symbiotic bacteria to develop probiotic treatments that can protect hosts from the causative agent of chytridiomycosis, the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. Events that cause disruption of symbiotic bacterial communities or deplete peptide stores could increase the susceptibility of individuals to disease and may have implications for amphibians involved in probiotic trials or time course studies that investigate symbiotic bacterial communities. It has previously been shown that passive integrated transponder tagging of frogs causes a rapid (within 24?h) and major proliferation of micro-organisms on the skin. Here, we show that marking of red-eyed tree frogs (Agalychnis callidryas) with visible elastomer has no effect on adrenal response (represented by faecal glucocorticoid metabolite concentrations) or peptide production, although there was evidence of a slightly greater microbial abundance associated with the skin of marked frogs 2?weeks after tagging. The results indicate that visible elastomer may be a preferable marking technique to passive integrated transponder tagging, particularly in the context of probiotic trials or time course studies that investigate symbiotic bacterial communities. More work is required to determine the effects of different marking techniques on physiological responses of amphibians, whether these physiological responses are consistent across host species and whether such 'non-invasive' marking methods affect the susceptibility of amphibians to infectious pathogens, such as B.?dendrobatidis.
Project description:Infectious diseases have serious impacts on human and wildlife populations, but the effects of a disease can vary, even among individuals or populations of the same host species. Identifying the reasons for this variation is key to understanding disease dynamics and mitigating infectious disease impacts, but disentangling cause and correlation during natural outbreaks is extremely challenging. This study aims to understand associations between symbiotic bacterial communities and an infectious disease, and examines multiple host populations before or after pathogen invasion to infer likely causal links. The results show that symbiotic bacteria are linked to fundamentally different outcomes of pathogen infection: host-pathogen coexistence (endemic infection) or host population extirpation (epidemic infection). Diversity and composition of skin-associated bacteria differed between populations of the frog, Rana sierrae, that coexist with or were extirpated by the fungal pathogen, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). Data from multiple populations sampled before or after pathogen invasion were used to infer cause and effect in the relationship between the fungal pathogen and symbiotic bacteria. Among host populations, variation in the composition of the skin microbiome was most strongly predicted by pathogen infection severity, even in analyses where the outcome of infection did not vary. This result suggests that pathogen infection shapes variation in the skin microbiome across host populations that coexist with or are driven to extirpation by the pathogen. By contrast, microbiome richness was largely unaffected by pathogen infection intensity, but was strongly predicted by geographical region of the host population, indicating the importance of environmental or host genetic factors in shaping microbiome richness. Thus, while both richness and composition of the microbiome differed between endemic and epidemic host populations, the underlying causes are most likely different: pathogen infection appears to shape microbiome composition, while microbiome richness was less sensitive to pathogen-induced disturbance. Because higher richness was correlated with host persistence in the presence of Bd, and richness appeared relatively stable to Bd infection, microbiome richness may contribute to disease resistance, although the latter remains to be directly tested.
Project description:Bacterial communities are frequently found in symbiotic associations with most animal species. The characteristically moist amphibian skin provides a good environment for the growth of some species of bacteria; among these a few can act as a first line defense mechanism against infections. Amphibians in the wild have relatively high exposure to bacteria through environmental transmission and through interactions with different conspecifics, whilst in captivity animals interact with fewer individuals, as well as experiencing a less complex environment through which to obtain their bacterial community. Here we compared the skin microbiota of captive and wild Mantella aurantiaca to investigate whether the captive environment was affecting individuals' skin associated bacteria. This could have survivorship implications if captive animals had a different skin microbial community in comparison to wild counterparts and they were to be used in a reintroduction program. The microbial community were characterized through 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing methodology. Analyses showed that captive individuals had significantly lower diversity of bacterial species and lower relative abundant microbiota when compared to wild populations; this could result in captive frogs released back to the wild probably has greater susceptibility to infections due to inadequate skin microbiota.
Project description:Chytridiomycosis, caused by the pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), has led to population declines and extinctions of frog species around the world. While it is known that symbiotic skin bacteria can play a protective role against pathogens, it is not known how these defensive bacteria are integrated into the bacterial community on amphibian skin. In this study, we used 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing, culturing and Bd inhibition bioassays to characterize the communities of skin bacteria on three Neotropical frog species that persist in a Bd-infected area in Panama and determined the abundance and integration of anti-Bd bacteria into the community. We found that the two treefrog species had a similar bacterial community structure, which differed from the more diverse community found on the terrestrial frog. Co-occurrence networks also revealed differences between frog species such that the treefrogs had a significantly higher number of culturable Bd-inhibitory OTUs with high centrality scores compared with the terrestrial frog. We found that culture-dependent OTUs captured between 21 and 39% of the total relative abundance revealed in culture-independent communities. Our results suggest different ecological strategies occurring within skin antifungal communities on host species that have not succumbed to Bd infections in the wild.