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Ex situ diet influences the bacterial community associated with the skin of red-eyed tree frogs (agalychnis callidryas)

Antwis, RE and Haworth, RL and Engelmoer, DJP and Ogilvy, V and Fidgett, AL and Preziosi, RF (2014) Ex situ diet influences the bacterial community associated with the skin of red-eyed tree frogs (agalychnis callidryas). PLoS ONE, 9 (1). ISSN 1932-6203

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Abstract

Amphibians support symbiotic bacterial communities on their skin that protect against a range of infectious pathogens, including the amphibian chytrid fungus. The conditions under which amphibians are maintained in captivity (e.g. diet, substrate, enrichment) in ex situ conservation programmes may affect the composition of the bacterial community. In addition, ex situ amphibian populations may support different bacterial communities in comparison to in situ populations of the same species. This could have implications for the suitability of populations intended for reintroduction, as well as the success of probiotic bacterial inoculations intended to provide amphibians with a bacterial community that resists invasion by the chytrid fungus. We aimed to investigate the effect of a carotenoid-enriched diet on the culturable bacterial community associated with captive red-eyed tree frogs (Agalychnis callidryas) and make comparisons to bacteria isolated from a wild population from the Chiquibul Rainforest in Belize. We successfully showed carotenoid availability influences the overall community composition, species richness and abundance of the bacterial community associated with the skin of captive frogs, with A. callidryas fed a carotenoid-enriched diet supporting a greater species richness and abundance of bacteria than those fed a carotenoid-free diet. Our results suggest that availability of carotenoids in the diet of captive frogs is likely to be beneficial for the bacterial community associated with the skin. We also found wild A. callidryas hosted more than double the number of different bacterial species than captive frogs with very little commonality between species. This suggests frogs in captivity may support a reduced and diverged bacterial community in comparison to wild populations of the same species, which could have particular relevance for ex situ conservation projects. © 2014 Antwis et al.

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