Skin microbiome disturbance linked to drought-associated amphibian disease

Shannon Buttimer, Diego Moura-Campos, Sasha E. Greenspan, Wesley J. Neely, Lucas Ferrante, Luís Felipe Toledo, C. Guilherme Becker

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The onset of global climate change has led to abnormal rainfall patterns, disrupting associations between wildlife and their symbiotic microorganisms. We monitored a population of pumpkin toadlets and their skin bacteria in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest during a drought. Given the recognized ability of some amphibian skin bacteria to inhibit the widespread fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), we investigated links between skin microbiome health, susceptibility to Bd and host mortality during a die-off event. We found that rainfall deficit was an indirect predictor of Bd loads through microbiome disruption, while its direct effect on Bd was weak. The microbiome was characterized by fewer putative Bd-inhibitory bacteria following the drought, which points to a one-month lagged effect of drought on the microbiome that may have increased toadlet susceptibility to Bd. Our study underscores the capacity of rainfall variability to disturb complex host–microbiome interactions and alter wildlife disease dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere14372
JournalEcology Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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