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Abstract Microbial diversity positively influences community resilience of the host microbiome. However, extinction risk factors such as habitat specialization, narrow environmental tolerances, and exposure to anthropogenic disturbance may homogenize host-associated microbial communities critical for stress responses including disease defense. In a dataset containing 43 threatened and 90 non-threatened amphibian species across two biodiversity hotspots (Brazil’s Atlantic Forest and Madagascar), we found that threatened host species carried lower skin bacterial diversity, after accounting for key environmental and host factors. The consistency of our findings across continents suggests the broad scale at which low bacteriome diversity may compromise pathogen defenses in species already burdened with the threat of extinction.Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
Host microbiomes may differ under the same environmental conditions and these differences may influence susceptibility to infection. Amphibians are ideal for comparing microbiomes in the context of disease defense because hundreds of species face infection with the skin-invading microbe
Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis(Bd), and species richness of host communities, including their skin bacteria (bacteriome), may be exceptionally high. We conducted a landscape-scale Bd survey of six co-occurring amphibian species in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest. To test the bacteriome as a driver of differential Bd prevalence, we compared bacteriome composition and co-occurrence network structure among the six focal host species. Results
Intensive sampling yielded divergent Bd prevalence in two ecologically similar terrestrial-breeding species, a group with historically low Bd resistance. Specifically, we detected the highest Bd prevalence in
Ischnocnema henseliibut no Bd detections in Haddadus binotatus. Haddadus binotatuscarried the highest bacteriome alpha and common core diversity, and a modular network partitioned by negative co-occurrences, characteristics associated with community stability and competitive interactions that could inhibit Bd colonization. Conclusions
Our findings suggest that community structure of the bacteriome might drive Bd resistance in
H. binotatus, which could guide microbiome manipulation as a conservation strategy to protect diverse radiations of direct-developing species from Bd-induced population collapses.