Shared and unique responses in the microbiome of allopatric lizards reared in a standardized environment

Braulio A. Assis, Terrence H. Bell, Heather I. Engler, William L. King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The gut microbiome can influence host fitness and, consequently, the ecology and evolution of natural populations. Microbiome composition can be driven by environmental exposure but also by the host's genetic background and phenotype. To contrast environmental and genetic effects on the microbiome we leverage preserved specimens of eastern fence lizards from allopatric lineages east and west of the Mississippi River but reared in standardized conditions. Bacterial composition was indistinguishable between lineages but responded significantly to host age—a proxy for environmental exposure. This was accompanied by a continuous decrease in bacterial diversity in both lineages, partially driven by decreasing evenness seen only in western lizards. These findings indicate that longer exposure to a homogeneous habitat may have a depreciating effect on microbiome diversity in eastern fence lizards, a response shared by both lineages. We highlight the importance of such effects when extrapolating patterns from laboratory experiments to the natural world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-12
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Ecological and Integrative Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Shared and unique responses in the microbiome of allopatric lizards reared in a standardized environment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this