Bacterial Species Identified on the Skin of Bottlenose Dolphins Off Southern California via Next Generation Sequencing Techniques

Microb Ecol. 2018 Feb;75(2):303-309. doi: 10.1007/s00248-017-1071-2. Epub 2017 Oct 28.


The dermis of cetaceans is in constant contact with microbial species. Although the skin of the bottlenose dolphin provides adequate defense against most disease-causing microbes, it also provides an environment for microbial community development. Microbial community uniqueness and richness associated with bottlenose dolphin skin is a function of varying habitats and changing environmental conditions. The current study uses ribosomal DNA as a marker to identify bacteria found on the skin of coastal and offshore bottlenose dolphins off of Southern California. The unique microbial communities recovered from these dolphins suggest a greater microbial diversity on the skin of offshore ecotype bottlenose dolphins, while microbial populations associated with the coastal ecotype include species that are more closely related to each other and that suggest exposure to communities that are likely to be associated with terrestrial runoff.

Keywords: Bottlenose dolphin; Cetaceans; Indicator species; Microbiome; Oceans and health.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Biodiversity
  • Bottle-Nosed Dolphin / microbiology*
  • California
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • DNA, Ribosomal / genetics
  • Ecosystem
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Phylogeny
  • Skin / microbiology*


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA, Ribosomal