Dominant isolates in amphibian skin bacteria communities can be cultured

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Red-spotted newts were swabbed so that their skin bacteria communities could be examined.

A new study in the Applied and Environmental Microbiology journal presents some results from sequencing DNA of amphibian skin bacteria communities. The authors captured spring peepers (Pseudacris crucifer), red-spotted newts (Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens), bullfrogs (Lithobates catesbeianus) and American toads (Anaxyrus americanus), and then swabbed them for their skin bacteria. One swab from each individual was plated onto agar to culture bacteria for inhibitory assays, the cultured bacteria were isolated, and then had DNA extracted from them (culture-dependent) and the other swab had bacterial DNA extracted directly from it (culture-independent).

A comparison of the cultured and un-cultured bacterial communities showed that although there was a considerable amount of bacterial diversity that had not been cultured, most of the dominant OTUs (Operational Taxonomic Units; see definition here) from the culture-independent sequencing were able to be cultured.

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Plates of cultured bacterial isolates from the skin of spring peeper frogs.

This finding is exciting because these culturable dominant bacterial species or OTUs may be the most important for preventing infection by the chytrid fungus, and thus are useful as probiotics.

Frog: 12, Fungus: 19

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