Environmental factors and host sex influence the skin microbiota structure of Hong Kong newt (Paramesotriton hongkongensis) in a coldspot of chytridiomycosis in subtropical East Asia

Bowen WAN, Guoling CHEN, Emily Shui Kei POON, Hon Shing FUNG, Anthony LAU, Simon Yung Wa SIN*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Chytridiomycosis, an infectious skin disease caused by the chytrid fungi, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis and B. salamandrivorans, poses a significant threat to amphibian biodiversity worldwide. Antifungal bacteria found on the skin of chytrid-resistant amphibians could potentially provide defense against chytridiomycosis and lower mortality rates among resistant individuals. The Hong Kong newt (Paramesotriton hongkongensis) is native to East Asia, a region suspected to be the origin of chytrids, and has exhibited asymptomatic infection, suggesting a long-term coexistence with the chytrids. Therefore, the skin microbiota of this resistant species warrant investigation, along with other factors that can affect the microbiota. Among the 149 newts sampled in their natural habitats in Hong Kong, China, putative antifungal bacteria were found in all individuals. There were 314 amplicon sequence variants distributed over 25 genera of putative antifungal bacteria; abundant ones included Acinetobacter, Flavobacterium, and Novosphingobium spp. The skin microbiota compositions were strongly influenced by the inter-site geographical distances. Despite inter-site differences, we identified some core skin microbes across sites that could be vital to P. hongkongensis. The dominant cores included the family Comamonadaceae, family Chitinophagaceae, and class Betaproteobacteria. Moreover, habitat elevation and host sex also exhibited significant effects on skin microbiota compositions. The antifungal bacteria found on these newts offer an important resource for conservation against chytridiomycosis, such as developing probiotic treatments for susceptible species.
Original languageEnglish
JournalIntegrative Zoology
Early online date13 Jun 2024
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2024

Bibliographical note

We would like to thank Yik-Hei Sung and Wing Ho Lee for their assistance during sample collection, Pei-Yu Huang for her advice on analysis, and Charis May Ngor Chan for her technical assistance. The computations were performed using the research computing facilities offered by the Information Technology Services at the University of Hong Kong.

© 2024 The Author(s). Integrative Zoology published by International Society of Zoological Sciences, Institute of Zoology/Chinese Academy of Sciences and John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd.

Keywords

  • 16S amplicon sequencing
  • Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis
  • Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans
  • antifungal bacteria
  • host–pathogen–microbiota coevolution

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