Diet diversity and environment determine the intestinal microbiome and bacterial pathogen load of fire salamanders

Yu Wang, Hannah K. Smith, Evy Goossens, Lionel Hertzog, Molly C. Bletz, Dries Bonte, Kris Verheyen, Luc Lens, Miguel Vences, Frank Pasmans, An Martel

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10 Scopus citations


Diverse communities of symbiotic microbes inhabit the digestive systems of vertebrates and play a crucial role in animal health, and host diet plays a major role in shaping the composition and diversity of these communities. Here, we characterized diet and gut microbiome of fire salamander populations from three Belgian forests. We carried out DNA metabarcoding on fecal samples, targeting eukaryotic 18S rRNA of potential dietary prey items, and bacterial 16S rRNA of the concomitant gut microbiome. Our results demonstrated an abundance of soft-bodied prey in the diet of fire salamanders, and a significant difference in the diet composition between males and females. This sex-dependent effect on diet was also reflected in the gut microbiome diversity, which is higher in males than female animals. Proximity to human activities was associated with increased intestinal pathogen loads. Collectively, the data supports a relationship between diet, environment and intestinal microbiome in fire salamanders, with potential health implications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20493
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

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