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Title: The amphibian microbiome exhibits poor resilience following pathogen-induced disturbance

Infectious pathogens can disrupt the microbiome in addition to directly affecting the host. Impacts of disease may be dependent on the ability of the microbiome to recover from such disturbance, yet remarkably little is known about microbiome recovery after disease, particularly in nonhuman animals. We assessed the resilience of the amphibian skin microbial community after disturbance by the pathogen,Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis(Bd). Skin microbial communities of laboratory-reared mountain yellow-legged frogs were tracked through three experimental phases: prior to Bd infection, after Bd infection (disturbance), and after clearing Bd infection (recovery period). Bd infection disturbed microbiome composition and altered the relative abundances of several dominant bacterial taxa. After Bd infection, frogs were treated with an antifungal drug that cleared Bd infection, but this did not lead to recovery of microbiome composition (measured as Unifrac distance) or relative abundances of dominant bacterial groups. These results indicate that Bd infection can lead to an alternate stable state in the microbiome of sensitive amphibians, or that microbiome recovery is extremely slow—in either case resilience is low. Furthermore, antifungal treatment and clearance of Bd infection had the additional effect of reducing microbial community variability, which we hypothesize results from similarity across frogs in the taxa that more » colonize community vacancies resulting from the removal of Bd. Our results indicate that the skin microbiota of mountain yellow-legged frogs has low resilience following Bd-induced disturbance and is further altered by the process of clearing Bd infection, which may have implications for the conservation of this endangered amphibian.

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Publication Date:
Journal Name:
The ISME Journal
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
p. 1628-1640
Nature Publishing Group
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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