Abstract Background Annual hibernation is an adaptation that helps many animals conserve energy during food shortage in winter. This natural cycle is also accompanied by a remodeling of the intestinal immune system, which is an aspect of host biology that is both influenced by, and can itself influence, the microbiota. In amphibians, the bacteria in the intestinal tract show a drop in bacterial counts. The proportion of pathogenic bacteria is greater in hibernating frogs than that found in nonhibernating frogs. This suggests that some intestinal gut microbes in amphibians can be maintained and may contribute to the functions in this closed ecosystem during hibernation. However, these results were derived from culture-based approaches that only covered a small portion of bacteria in the intestinal tract. Methods In this study, we use a more comprehensive analysis, including bacterial appearance and functional prediction, to reveal the global changes in gut microbiota during artificial hibernation via high-throughput sequencing technology. Results Our results suggest that artificial hibernation in the brown tree frog (Polypedates megacephalus) could reduce microbial diversity, and artificially hibernating frogs tend to harbor core operational taxonomic units that are rarely distributed among nonhibernating frogs. In addition, artificial hibernation increased significantly the relative abundance of the red-leg syndrome-related pathogenic genus Citrobacter. Furthermore, functional predictions via PICRUSt and Tax4Fun suggested that artificial hibernation has effects on metabolism, disease, signal transduction, bacterial infection, and primary immunodeficiency. Conclusions We infer that artificial hibernation may impose potential effects on primary immunodeficiency and increase the risk of bacterial infections in the brown tree frog.
|Date made available||2016 Dec 22|