Composition of the Cutaneous Bacterial Community in Japanese Amphibians: Effects of Captivity, Host Species, and Body Region

Joana Sabino-Pinto, Molly Catherine Bletz, Mohammed Mafizul Islam, Norio Shimizu, Sabin Bhuju, Robert Geffers, Michael Jarek, Atsushi Kurabayashi, Miguel Vences

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


The cutaneous microbiota plays a significant role in the biology of their vertebrate hosts, and its composition is known to be influenced both by host and environment, with captive conditions often altering alpha diversity. Here, we compare the cutaneous bacterial communities of 61 amphibians (both wild and captive) from Hiroshima, Japan, using high-throughput amplicon sequencing of a segment of the 16S rRNA gene. The majority of these samples came from a captive breeding facility at Hiroshima University where specimens from six species are maintained under highly standardized conditions for several generations. This allowed to identify host effects on the bacterial communities under near identical environmental conditions in captivity. We found the structure of the cutaneous bacterial community significantly differing between wild and captive individuals of newts, Cynops pyrrhogaster, with a higher alpha diversity found in the wild individuals. Community structure also showed distinct patterns when comparing different species of amphibians kept under highly similar conditions, revealing an intrinsic host effect. Bacterial communities of dorsal vs. ventral skin surfaces did not significantly differ in most species, but a trend of higher alpha diversity on the ventral surface was found in Oriental fire-bellied toads, Bombina orientalis. This study confirms the cutaneous microbiota of amphibians as a highly dynamic system influenced by a complex interplay of numerous factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)460-469
Number of pages10
JournalMicrobial Ecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Soil Science

Cite this