Skip to main content
Dryad logo

Data from: Epidemic and endemic pathogen dynamics correspond to distinct host population microbiomes at a landscape scale


Jani, Andrea J.; Knapp, Roland A.; Briggs, Cheryl J. (2017), Data from: Epidemic and endemic pathogen dynamics correspond to distinct host population microbiomes at a landscape scale, Dryad, Dataset,


Infectious diseases have serious impacts on human and wildlife populations, but the effects of a disease can vary, even among individuals or populations of the same host species. Identifying the reasons for this variation is key to understanding disease dynamics and mitigating infectious disease impacts, but disentangling cause and correlation during natural outbreaks is extremely challenging. This study aims to understand associations between symbiotic bacterial communities and an infectious disease, and examines multiple host populations before or after pathogen invasion to infer likely causal links. The results show that symbiotic bacteria are linked to fundamentally different outcomes of pathogen infection: host–pathogen coexistence (endemic infection) or host population extirpation (epidemic infection). Diversity and composition of skin-associated bacteria differed between populations of the frog, Rana sierrae, that coexist with or were extirpated by the fungal pathogen, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). Data from multiple populations sampled before or after pathogen invasion were used to infer cause and effect in the relationship between the fungal pathogen and symbiotic bacteria. Among host populations, variation in the composition of the skin microbiome was most strongly predicted by pathogen infection severity, even in analyses where the outcome of infection did not vary. This result suggests that pathogen infection shapes variation in the skin microbiome across host populations that coexist with or are driven to extirpation by the pathogen. By contrast, microbiome richness was largely unaffected by pathogen infection intensity, but was strongly predicted by geographical region of the host population, indicating the importance of environmental or host genetic factors in shaping microbiome richness. Thus, while both richness and composition of the microbiome differed between endemic and epidemic host populations, the underlying causes are most likely different: pathogen infection appears to shape microbiome composition, while microbiome richness was less sensitive to pathogen-induced disturbance. Because higher richness was correlated with host persistence in the presence of Bd, and richness appeared relatively stable to Bd infection, microbiome richness may contribute to disease resistance, although the latter remains to be directly tested.

Usage Notes


National Science Foundation, Award: 1455873


United States
Sierra Nevada