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Tuesday, January 30 • 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Poster Display. Effects of Soil Conditions on Cutaneous Bacteria of the Red-backed Salamander

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AUTHORS: Tyler DeVos, Dr. Jill Leonard, Dr. Josh Sharp - Northern Michigan University

ABSTRACT: Nearly a third of amphibian species worldwide are currently in danger of extinction, and the parasitic chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, has emerged as one of several factors contributing greatly to this decline in amphibian biodiversity. The chytrid fungus is capable of rapid spread, and once established grows on the skin of infected individuals and usually results in weight loss and eventual death. A few species, including the red-backed salamander, Plethodon cinereus, have shown resistance to the fungus. This resistance is facilitated by bacteria which live on the salamanders’ skin and produce compounds that inhibit B. dentrobatidis. While extensive research has been done on the ability of these cutaneous bacteria to provide resistance against the fungus, less is known about how environmental conditions affect the bacteria. To test this, red-backed salamanders were housed individually on either natural or sterilized soil. Bacteria were collected from the skin monthly and transferred to nutrient plates to grow for approximately 48 hours. Bacterial colonies were then categorized and counted using ImageJ software. We observed a dramatic increase in total colony count among salamanders housed on sterile soil; however, colonies of antibiotic-producing bacteria were found only on salamanders housed on natural soil from the second sample onwards. The data suggests that changes in the composition of soil bacteria have the ability to strongly influence the resistance of red-backed salamanders against the chytrid fungus.

Tuesday January 30, 2018 6:00pm - 9:00pm CST
Ballroom C & Foyer