FACTORS INFLUENCING THE STRUCTURE AND FUNCTION OF SKIN BACTERIAL COMMUNITIES IN AMPHIBIANS
Recent studies have shown that skin bacterial communities in amphibians are influenced by host-specific factors but also by environmental factors and the presence of pathogens. In my lab, we are interested in determining the biotic and abiotic factors that influence the structure and function of skin microbial communities. Our study models are mainly Mexican amphibian species including endemic species like Ambystoma altamirani.
Through the use of next generation sequencing technologies, we are addressing essential ecological questions trying to understand how structure and function of skin symbiotic communities are affected by different factors. Specifically, we would like to understand how the environment, the host immune system, the developmental stage and other factors, influence these symbiotic communities, since its known that many of their bacterial members protect their hosts against diseases like chytridiomycosis.
Chytridiomycosis is a skin disease, caused by the fungal pathogens Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) and Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal), has caused dramatic amphibian population declines and extinctions all over the world. However, some frog species are persisting in the wild and we are interested in evaluating if skin microbes are playing a significant role in these tolerant-resistant species.
SKIN BACTERIA COULD SAVE FROGS FROM EMERGING DISEASES
Frogs are dying all over the world due to chyitridiomycosis. Skin bacteria isolated from amphibians are able to inhibit the growth of the pathogen that is responsible for this disease.
We are currently isolating bacterial strains from the skin of mexican amphibians with the aim of identifying beneficial bacteria that could have a role in protection against pathogens. These bacterial species can potentially be used as probiotics to help susceptible amphibians contend against pathogens like Bd and Bsal.