Direct and Indirect Horizontal Transmission of the Antifungal Probiotic Bacterium Janthinobacterium lividum on Green Frog (Lithobates clamitans) Tadpoles

Appl Environ Microbiol. 2016 Apr 4;82(8):2457-2466. doi: 10.1128/AEM.04147-15. Print 2016 Apr.


Amphibian populations worldwide are being threatened by the disease chytridiomycosis, which is caused by Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis To mitigate the effects of B. dendrobatidis, bioaugmentation of antifungal bacteria has been shown to be a promising strategy. One way to implement bioaugmentation is through indirect horizontal transmission, defined as the transfer of bacteria from a host to the environment and to another host. In addition, direct horizontal transmission among individuals can facilitate the spread of a probiotic in a population. In this study, we tested whether the antifungal bacterium Janthinobacterium lividum could be horizontally transferred, directly or indirectly, in a laboratory experiment using Lithobates clamitans tadpoles. We evaluated the ability of J. lividumto colonize the tadpoles' skin and to persist through time using culture-dependent and culture-independent techniques. We also tested whether the addition of J. lividum affected the skin community in L. clamitans tadpoles. We found that transmission occurred rapidly by direct and indirect horizontal transmission, but indirect transmission that included a potential substrate was more effective. Even though J. lividum colonized the skin, its relative abundance on the tadpole skin decreased over time. The inoculation of J. lividum did not significantly alter the skin bacterial diversity of L. clamitans tadpoles, which was dominated by Pseudomonas Our results show that indirect horizontal transmission can be an effective bioaugmentation method. Future research is needed to determine the best conditions, including the presence of substrates, under which a probiotic can persist on the skin so that bioaugmentation becomes a successful strategy to mitigate chytridiomycosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Larva / microbiology*
  • Oxalobacteraceae / isolation & purification*
  • Probiotics*
  • Rana clamitans / microbiology*
  • Skin / microbiology