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Microb Ecol. 2018 Aug;76(2):518-529. doi: 10.1007/s00248-017-1130-8. Epub 2017 Dec 27.

Individual- and Species-Specific Skin Microbiomes in Three Different Estrildid Finch Species Revealed by 16S Amplicon Sequencing.

Author information

1
Department of Animal Behaviour, Research Group Chemical Signalling, Bielefeld University, Konsequenz 45, 33615, Bielefeld, Germany. k.engel@uni-bielefeld.de.
2
Department of Animal Behaviour, Research Group Chemical Signalling, Bielefeld University, Konsequenz 45, 33615, Bielefeld, Germany. jan.sauer@uni-bielefeld.de.
3
Center for Biotechnology (CeBiTec), Bielefeld University, Sequenz 1, 33615, Bielefeld, Germany.
4
Faculty of Technology, Bielefeld University, Universitätsstraße 25, 33615, Bielefeld, Germany.
5
Department of Animal Behaviour, Research Group Chemical Signalling, Bielefeld University, Konsequenz 45, 33615, Bielefeld, Germany.

Abstract

An animals' body is densely populated with bacteria. Although a large number of investigations on physiological microbial colonisation have emerged in recent years, our understanding of the composition, ecology and function of the microbiota remains incomplete. Here, we investigated whether songbirds have an individual-specific skin microbiome that is similar across different body regions. We collected skin microbe samples from three different bird species (Taeniopygia gutatta, Lonchura striata domestica and Stagonopleura gutatta) at two body locations (neck region, preen gland area). To characterise the skin microbes and compare the bacterial composition, we used high-throughput 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing. This method proved suitable for identifying the skin microbiome of birds, even though the bacterial load on the skin appeared to be relatively low. We found that across all species, the two evaluated skin areas of each individual harboured very similar microbial communities, indicative of an individual-specific skin microbiome. Despite experiencing the same environmental conditions and consuming the same diet, significant differences in the skin microbe composition were identified among the three species. The bird species differed both quantitatively and qualitatively regarding the observed bacterial taxa. Although each species harboured its own unique set of skin microbes, we identified a core skin microbiome among the studied species. As microbes are known to influence the host's body odour, our findings of an individual-specific skin microbiome might suggest that the skin microbiome in birds is involved in the odour production and could encode information on the host's genotype.

KEYWORDS:

16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing; Estrildid finches; Individuality; Microbial community; Skin microbiome

PMID:
29282519
DOI:
10.1007/s00248-017-1130-8
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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