Associations between Afrotropical bats, parasites, and microbial symbionts

Lutz, Holly L., Jackson, Elliot W., Dick, Carl W., Webala, Paul W., Babyesiza, Waswa S., Kerbis Peterhans, Julian C., Demos, Terrence C., Patterson, Bruce D., Gilbert, Jack A

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Oct 05, 2018

Received Date: 28th September 2018

Bats are among the most diverse animals on the planet and harbor numerous bacterial, viral, and eukaryotic symbionts. The interplay between bacterial community composition and parasitism in bats is not well understood and may have important implications for studies of similar systems. Here we present a comprehensive survey of dipteran and haemosporidian parasites, and characterize the gut, oral, and skin microbiota of Afrotropical bats. We identify significant correlations between bacterial community composition of the skin and dipteran ectoparasite prevalence across four major bat lineages, as well as links between the oral microbiome and malarial parasitism, suggesting a potential mechanism for host selection and vector-borne disease transmission in bats. Mirroring recent studies of host-microbiome co-speciation in mammals, we find a weak correlation between chiropteran phylogenetic distances and bacterial community dissimilarity across the three anatomical sites, suggesting that host environment is more important than shared ancestry in shaping the composition of associated bacterial communities.

Read in full at bioRxiv.

This is an abstract of a preprint hosted on an independent third party site. It has not been peer reviewed but is currently under consideration at Nature Communications.


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Nature Communications

Nature Research, Springer Nature