AUG 01, 2017 4:33 PM PDT

In Frogs, Microbiome Disruption in Youth Negatively Impacts Adult Health

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

Microbes live in symbiosis with animals, and those microbial communities can have a big impact on the health of their hosts. There is plenty of recent research linking human health to the microbiome, and now researchers have used a frog model to investigate this connection. Their work has shown that there is a critical window during development that affects the ability of adult frogs to fight off parasitic gut worms. This work, reported in Nature Communications, shows how disruptions to the gut and skin microbiomes in the young life of frogs affect their immunity later in life.

ow-temperature electron micrograph of a cluster of E. coli bacteria (a common intestinal bacterium), magnified 10,000 times. Each individual bacterium is oblong shaped./ Credit: United States Department of Agriculture.

"Our study found that a disruption of bacteria in tadpoles has enduring negative effects on how adult frogs deal with their parasite," explained Sarah Knutie of the University of Connecticut, who led the work. "These results suggest that preventing early-life disruptions of bacteria by factors such as nutrition, antibiotics, and pollution, might confer protection against diseases later in life."

The researchers think that this work has implications for humans and that it can help reveal the nature of the connection between our microbiomes and our health. Previous work has indicated that when mammals experience disruption to their microbiome in early life, the immune system can become hyper-reactive. Such an overactive immune system can cause lots of problems, like allergies or autoimmune diseases.

For this study, researchers raised tadpoles in several different kinds of environments to develop a variety of microbial communities in and around the animals. The tadpoles were raised in sterile pond water without additives, sterile pond water with short-term antibiotics, sterile pond water with long-term antibiotics, or natural pond water. After the tadpoles developed into Cuban tree frogs, the researchers exposed them to parasites.

In adult frogs that carried reduced diversity among their bacteria as tadpoles, there were three times more parasites compared to adults without microbiome disruption as tadpoles. This data suggests that if disruptions to the microbiome are prevented, infection risk might be reduced later in life.

"We found that the relative abundance of certain bacteria ... in juveniles was positively correlated with parasite resistance in adulthood,” explained the researchers.

Check out the video above from Johns Hopkins University to learn more about how the human gut microbiome is connected to our health and well-being.

 

Sources: AAAS/Eurekalert! Via University of Connecticut, Nature Communications

About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on 28 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 60 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
JAN 15, 2020
Microbiology
JAN 15, 2020
Scientists Engineer a New Kind of Life Form
Usig cells harvested from frogs, researchers created tiny robots....
JAN 19, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
JAN 19, 2020
Engineering Mosquitoes to Stop Dengue Virus Transmission
The dengue virus is transmitted by mosquitoes. It is found in over one hundred countries and threatens three billion people with a serious illness....
JAN 30, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
JAN 30, 2020
Genetically Engineered Bacteria Can Protect Bees From Pathogens
As pollinators, honey bees play a critical role in food production, and they have been suffering heavy losses for years....
FEB 10, 2020
Immunology
FEB 10, 2020
Measles infections can give the immune system amnesia
The immune system detects the presence of invading microbes that it recognizes from previous infections, and initiates a full-blown immune response. New re...
MAR 22, 2020
Microbiology
MAR 22, 2020
The Benefits of Being a Loner
Outliers exist everywhere in nature, and it seems they serve an important purpose....
MAR 26, 2020
Microbiology
MAR 26, 2020
US Now Leads the World in Coronavirus Cases
In the United States, there have been 83,836 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and over 529,000 worldwide....
Loading Comments...