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ISME J. 2019 Jul;13(7):1763-1775. doi: 10.1038/s41396-019-0388-x. Epub 2019 Mar 13.

Integrating the role of antifungal bacteria into skin symbiotic communities of three Neotropical frog species.

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Centro de Ciencias Genómicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Cuernavaca, Morelos, México.
Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, Bradenton, FL, USA.
Department of Biology, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY, USA.
Department of Biological Sciences, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA.
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama City, Panama.
Department of Biology, James Madison University, MSC 7801, Harrisonburg, VA, USA.
Amphibian Survival Alliance, London, UK.


Chytridiomycosis, caused by the pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), has led to population declines and extinctions of frog species around the world. While it is known that symbiotic skin bacteria can play a protective role against pathogens, it is not known how these defensive bacteria are integrated into the bacterial community on amphibian skin. In this study, we used 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing, culturing and Bd inhibition bioassays to characterize the communities of skin bacteria on three Neotropical frog species that persist in a Bd-infected area in Panama and determined the abundance and integration of anti-Bd bacteria into the community. We found that the two treefrog species had a similar bacterial community structure, which differed from the more diverse community found on the terrestrial frog. Co-occurrence networks also revealed differences between frog species such that the treefrogs had a significantly higher number of culturable Bd-inhibitory OTUs with high centrality scores compared with the terrestrial frog. We found that culture-dependent OTUs captured between 21 and 39% of the total relative abundance revealed in culture-independent communities. Our results suggest different ecological strategies occurring within skin antifungal communities on host species that have not succumbed to Bd infections in the wild.


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