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Title: Towards an eco-phylogenetic framework for infectious disease ecology: Eco-phylogenetics and disease ecology
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Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Biological Reviews
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
950 to 970
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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  3. Abstract

    Molecular technologies have revolutionized the field of wildlife disease ecology, allowing the detection of outbreaks, novel pathogens, and invasive strains. In particular, metabarcoding approaches, defined here as tools used to amplify and sequence universal barcodes from a single sample (e.g., 16S rRNA for bacteria, ITS for fungi, 18S rRNA for eukaryotes), are expanding our traditional view of host–pathogen dynamics by integrating microbial interactions that modulate disease outcome. Here, I provide an analysis from the perspective of the field of amphibian disease ecology, where the emergence of multi-host pathogens has caused global declines and species extinctions. I reanalyzed an experimental mesocosm dataset to infer the functional profiles of the skin microbiomes of coqui frogs (Eleutherodactylus coqui), an amphibian species that is consistently found infected with the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis and has high turnover of skin bacteria driven by seasonal shifts. I found that the metabolic activities of microbiomes operate at different capacities depending on the season. Global enrichment of predicted functions was more prominent during the warm-wet season, indicating that microbiomes during the cool-dry season were either depauperate, resistant to new bacterial colonization, or that their functional space was more saturated. These findings suggest important avenues to investigate howmore »microbes regulate population growth and contribute to host physiological processes. Overall, this study highlights the current challenges and future opportunities in the application of metabarcoding to investigate the causes and consequences of disease in wild systems.

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