Meeting Abstract

70.2  Friday, Jan. 6  Distinctiveness and diversity of bacteria associated with salamander skin ALLISON, Amanda/L*; FITZPATRICK, Benjamin/M; University of Tennessee, Knoxville

The extent of co-evolution of microbial communities with animals and plants is largely unknown and it is uncertain how common specific mutualisms are or how important they may be in influencing the evolution and ecology of macro-organisms. Amphibian skin appears to be a selective medium allowing and perhaps promoting growth of certain bacteria. Some have hypothesized that certain bacteria are mutualists, helping defend the host from harmful microbes in the environment. The evolution of mutualism depends, among other things, on the consistency and specificity of associations. Almost nothing is known about the consistency and specificity of bacteria-salamander associations. The objectives of this study are to (1) confirm that the bacterial microflora associated with salamanders comprise a distinct community relative to the free-living bacteria in the immediate environment, (2) evaluate the consistency of bacteria-salamander associations across populations in various environments, and (3) test whether similarities between bacterial communities can be predicted by evolutionary relatedness of different salamanders. Microbial communities were collected from both salamander skin and their immediate environment and high-throughput pyrosequencing techniques will be used to assay microbial communities. Preliminary results will be presented.