Amphibian Host and Skin Microbiota Response to a Common Agricultural Antimicrobial and Internal Parasite

  • Obed Hernández-GómezEmail author
  • Vanessa Wuerthner
  • Jessica Hua
Host Microbe Interactions


Holistic approaches that simultaneously characterize responses of both microbial symbionts and their hosts to environmental shifts are imperative to understanding the role of microbiotas on host health. Using the northern leopard frog (Lithobates pipiens) as our model, we investigated the effects of a common trematode (family Echinostomatidae), a common agricultural antimicrobial (Sulfadimethoxine; SDM), and their interaction on amphibian skin microbiota and amphibian health (growth metrics and susceptibility to parasites). In the trematode-exposed individuals, we noted an increase in alpha diversity and a shift in microbial communities. In the SDM-treated individuals, we found a change in the composition of the skin microbiota similar to those induced by the trematode treatment. Groups treated with SDM, echinostomes, or a combination of SDM and echinostomes, had higher relative abundances of OTUs assigned to Flavobacterium and Acinetobacter. Both of these genera have been associated with infectious disease in amphibians and the production of anti-pathogen metabolites. Similar changes in microbial community composition between SDM and trematode exposed individuals may have resulted from stress-related disruption of host immunity. Despite changes in the microbiota, we found no effect of echinostomes and SDM on host health. Given the current disease- and pollution-related threats facing amphibians, our study highlights the need to continue to evaluate the influence of natural and anthropogenic stressors on host-associated microbial communities.


Lithobates pipiens Sulfadimethoxine Echinostomes 16S rRNA 



We thank the Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources Genetics Laboratory for allowing us to perform the microbiota laboratory work in their facility. We also thank the staff of the Cornell University Biotechnology Resource Center for their assistance in sequencing. Finally, we thank Nicholas Buss for collecting the leopard frog egg masses. All animals were handled in accordance with the Binghamton University IACUC protocol 757-16.


Funding for this research was provided by NSF DEB 1655190 to JH, NSF PRFB 1708926 to OHG, and by Binghamton University’s Sustainable Communities Transdisciplinary Areas of Excellence to VW.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.

Supplementary material

248_2019_1351_MOESM1_ESM.docx (51 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 50 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and ManagementUniversity of California-BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.Biological Sciences DepartmentBinghamton UniversityBinghamtonUSA

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