Volume 30 (2015) Issue 3 Pages 262-269
In human and wildlife populations, the natural microbiota plays an important role in health maintenance and the prevention of emerging infectious diseases. In amphibians, infectious diseases have been closely associated with population decline and extinction worldwide. Skin symbiont communities have been suggested as one of the factors driving the different susceptibilities of amphibians to diseases. The activity of the skin microbiota of amphibians against fungal pathogens, such as Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, has been examined extensively, whereas its protective role towards the cutaneous infectious diseases caused by Amphibiocystidium parasites has not yet been elucidated in detail. In the present study, we investigated, for the first time, the cutaneous microbiota of the Italian stream frog (Rana italica) and characterized the microbial assemblages of frogs uninfected and infected by Amphibiocystidium using the Illumina next-generation sequencing of 16S rRNA gene fragments. A total of 629 different OTUs belonging to 16 different phyla were detected. Bacterial populations shared by all individuals represented only one fifth of all OTUs and were dominated by a small number of OTUs. Statistical analyses based on Bray-Curtis distances showed that uninfected and infected specimens had distinct cutaneous bacterial community structures. Phylotypes belonging to the genera Janthinobacterium, Pseudomonas, and Flavobacterium were more abundant, and sometimes almost exclusively present, in uninfected than in infected specimens. These bacterial populations, known to exhibit antifungal activity in amphibians, may also play a role in protection against cutaneous infectious diseases caused by Amphibiocystidium parasites.