Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form

Temperature-Dependent Effects of Cutaneous Bacteria on a Frog’s Tolerance of Fungal Infection

Robak, Matthew J. and Richards-Zawacki, Corinne L. (2018) Temperature-Dependent Effects of Cutaneous Bacteria on a Frog’s Tolerance of Fungal Infection. Frontiers in Microbiology, 9. ISSN 1664-302X

Published Version

Download (540kB) | Preview


Defense against pathogens is one of many benefits that bacteria provide to animal hosts. A clearer understanding of how changes in the environment affect the interactions between animals and their microbial benefactors is needed in order to predict the impact and dynamics of emerging animal diseases. Due to its dramatic effects on the physiology of animals and their pathogens, temperature may be a key variable modulating the level of protection that beneficial bacteria provide to their animal hosts. Here we investigate how temperature and the makeup of the skin microbial community affect the susceptibility of amphibian hosts to infection by Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), one of two fungal pathogens known to cause the disease chytridiomycosis. To do this, we manipulated the skin bacterial communities of susceptible hosts, northern cricket frogs (Acris crepitans), prior to exposing these animals to Bd under two different ecologically relevant temperatures. Our manipulations included one treatment where antibiotics were used to reduce the skin bacterial community, one where the bacterial community was augmented with the antifungal bacterium, Stenotrophomonas maltophilia, and one in which the frog’s skin bacterial community was left intact. We predicted that frogs with reduced skin bacterial communities would be more susceptible (i.e., less resistant to and/or tolerant of Bd infection), and frogs with skin bacterial communities augmented with the known antifungal bacterium would be less susceptible to Bd infection and chytridiomycosis. However, we also predicted that this interaction would be temperature dependent. We found a strong effect of temperature but not of skin microbial treatment on the probability and intensity of infection in Bd-exposed frogs. Whether temperature affected survival; however, it differed among our skin microbial treatment groups, with animals having more S. maltophilia on their skin surviving longer at 14 but not at 26°C. Our results suggest that temperature was the predominant factor influencing Bd’s ability to colonize the host (i.e., resistance) but that the composition of the cutaneous bacterial community was important in modulating the host’s ability to survive (i.e., tolerate) a heavy Bd infection.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: Article
Status: Published
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Robak, Matthew J.
Richards-Zawacki, Corinne
Date: 2018
Date Type: Publication
Journal or Publication Title: Frontiers in Microbiology
Volume: 9
Publisher: Frontiers Media S.A.
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.3389/fmicb.2018.00410
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Biological Sciences
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Acris crepitans, amphibian chytridiomycosis, antifungal, bioaugmentation, host–pathogen interactions, skin microbes, Stenotrophomonas maltophilia
ISSN: 1664-302X
Official URL:
Funders: National Science Foundation, Louisiana Board of Regents
Article Type: Research Article
Date Deposited: 13 May 2020 15:26
Last Modified: 13 May 2020 15:26


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item