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Linking spatiotemporal patterns of host-microbiome interactions to disease resistance in Atlantic Forest frogs

Grant number: 22/07125-2
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): January 20, 2023
Effective date (End): October 29, 2023
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology
Principal Investigator:Luis Felipe de Toledo Ramos Pereira
Grantee:Julia Renata Ernetti
Supervisor: Carlos Guilherme Becker
Host Institution: Instituto de Biologia (IB). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil
Research place: Pennsylvania State University, United States  
Associated to the scholarship:20/02994-7 - Altitudinal variation of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis on continental and insular amphibians, BP.DR


The consortium of symbiotic microorganisms recruited by vertebrate hosts and their metabolic products (the microbiome) are known to aid in host health. The amphibian skin microbiome represents an important line of defense against a variety of pathogens, including the waterborne fungal pathogen that causes chytridiomycosis, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). However, interactions between Bd and the amphibian skin microbiome are complex, involving genetic factors of the pathogen, as well as biotic and abiotic factors, which modify the outcome of these host-pathogen dynamics. We will test the relationship between host skin microbiome, Bd genetic diversity and Bd infection in Hylodes phyllodes, in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. We hypothesize that environmental conditions and pathogen genetics will be associated with Bd infection status and diversity skin microbiome, and this will reflect on the resistance to infection and development of the disease in the host. For that, we will examine Bd infection rates and genetic diversity of our collected swab samples of H. phyllodes and correlate with skin bacterial community structure across sixteen sites along an elevation gradient in the species distribution area. In addition, we will investigate the spatial and temporal genetic diversity of Bd lineages and assess whether virulent genotypes occur close to areas where local amphibian declines and extinctions have been reported in the past in mountainous regions of southeastern Brazil. Combined our results will shed new light on spatial epidemiology theory as well as inform novel conservation strategies for wild populations. (AU)

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