The origin of the tadpole intestinal and skin microbiomes and their role in the development of immunocompetence against a fungal pandemic in amphibians

01 November 2021 → 31 October 2025
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Natural sciences
    • Animal immunology
    • Mycology
    • Transcriptomics
  • Agricultural and food sciences
    • Veterinary immunology
Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis microbiome amphibian immunocompetence
Project description

Chytridiomycosis is an infectious disease that has severely impacted the amphibians populations worldwide. Amphibian tadpoles play a key role in chytridiomycosis mediated amphibian declines. In fact, B. dendrobatidis infected tadpoles support the persistence of the fungus in the amphibian community and have the potential to carry over infection to the metamorph life stage, which is often most susceptible to the lethal effects of chytridiomycosis. However, factors that determine B. dendrobatidis prevalence and infection loads in tadpoles are poorly understood. Recent studies on the microbiome show that it plays a key role in the development of immunocompetence in several vertebrate species. This could mean that differences in source microbiomes are likely to steer tadpole microbial communities and, possibly, immunocompetence. My research plans to investigate the role of skin and intestinal microbiome as drivers of immunocompetence against B. dendrobatidis in tadpoles and, as a consequence, steer B. dendrobatidis infection and disease dynamics. After developing an axenic tadpole model from Discoglossus pictus, I will determine the source of skin and intestinal microbiome in anuran tadpoles. Finally, I will assess the impact of the tadpole's microbiome on immune development against and infection dynamics of a highly virulent strain of B. dendrobatidis.