Intraspecific Variation in the Skin-Associated Microbiome of a Terrestrial Salamander
Resident microbial communities living on amphibian skin can have significant effects on host health, yet the basic ecology of the host-microbiome relationship of many amphibian taxa is poorly understood. We characterized intraspecific variation in the skin microbiome of the salamander Ensatina eschscholtzii xanthoptica, a subspecies composed of four genetically distinct populations distributed throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and the Sierra Nevada mountains in California, USA. We found that salamanders from four geographically and genetically isolated populations harbor similar skin microbial communities, which are dominated by a common core set of bacterial taxa. Additionally, within a population, the skin microbiome does not appear to differ significantly between salamanders of different ages or sexes. In all cases, the salamander skin microbiomes were significantly different from those of the surrounding terrestrial environment. These results suggest that the relationship between E. e. xanthoptica salamanders and their resident skin microbiomes is conserved, possibly indicating a stable mutualism between the host and microbiome.