Collaborative Research: Linking Causes of Variation in the Amphibian Skin Microbiome with Consequences for Disease Risk

Award Period
Award Amount
Agency Name
National Science Foundation
Award Number
PI First Name
PI Last Name
Roland Knapp
MSI People
Area/s of Research
Ecology and Evolution


This project has two objectives: to understand the factors that shape symbiotic microbial

communities, and to understand how symbiotic microbial communities interact with invading

pathogens. Animals serve as habitats to complex symbiotic microbial communities (referred

to as the microbiome). The microbiome may interact with pathogens encountered by the host,

and this interaction can affect disease resistance and/or alter the species composition of

the microbiome. This project will examine microbiome assembly and microbiome-pathogen interactions

in a wildlife disease system consisting of a frog species, the symbiotic bacteria inhabiting

its skin, and a fungal pathogen. Molecular methods (16S amplicon sequencing and metagenomics

of bacterial communities; microsatellite analysis of host genotypes) will be combined with

field surveys and laboratory experiments to understand the relative influence of environment

and host on microbial community composition. Mathematical models will be used to identify

processes underlying patterns of community assembly. Field, experimental, and modeling approaches

will then be used to investigate the interactions between the microbiome and the pathogen,

to determine whether microbiome composition determines resistance to the pathogen, and/or

if the invading pathogen disrupts microbiome composition and function.