Functional Redundancy of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis Inhibition in Bacterial Communities Isolated from Lithobates clamitans Skin


The cutaneous microbial community can influence the health of amphibians exposed to Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), a fungal pathogen that has contributed to recent amphibian declines. Resistance to Bd in amphibian populations is correlated with the presence of anti-Bd cutaneous microbes, which confer disease resistance by inhibiting Bd growth. I aimed to determine if green frogs (Lithobates clamitans), an abundant and widely distributed species in New Jersey, harbored bacteria that inhibit Bd and whether the presence and identity of these microbes varied among sites. I used in vitro challenge assays to determine if bacteria isolated from green frog skin could inhibit or enhance the growth of Bd. I found that green frogs at all sites harbored anti-Bd bacteria. However, there were differences in Bd inhibition capabilities among bacterial isolates identified as the same operational taxonomic unit (OTU), lending support to the idea that phylogenetic relatedness does not always predict Bd inhibition status. Additionally, anti-Bd bacterial richness did not vary by site, but the composition of anti-Bd bacterial taxa was distinct at each site. This suggests that there is functional redundancy of Bd inhibition across unique communities of anti-Bd symbionts found on frogs at different sites. These findings highlight the need to better elucidate the structure-function relationship of microbiomes and their role in disease resistance.

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I thank Peter Morin, members of the Morin lab, Reid Harris, and anonymous reviewers for comments on the manuscript. I also thank Kevin Wyman and Paul Falkowski for use of the Falkowski lab’s spectrophotometer.


Funding for this work was provided by the New Jersey Water Resources Research Institute FY2016 Program, Project ID 2016NJ381B (USGS Grant Number G16AP00071) and a small grant award from the Rutgers University Ecology & Evolution Graduate Program.

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Correspondence to Ariel Kruger.

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Kruger, A. Functional Redundancy of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis Inhibition in Bacterial Communities Isolated from Lithobates clamitans Skin. Microb Ecol 79, 231–240 (2020).

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  • Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis
  • Disease
  • Functional redundancy
  • Lithobates clamitans
  • Skin microbiome