REP Project

April 25, 2024

Amphibian skin microbe-microbe interactions in the face of climate change

Image of frog sitting on a leaf surrounded by bacteria. Generated with AI by A Ellison 22.4.24

Location: Bangor University.

6 week placement.

Skin microbiomes play a critical role in amphibian health, acting as a first line of defence against invading microbial pathogens. There is growing evidence from a range of wild amphibian species that microbiome diversity and key bacterial taxa are critical for resistance against emergent chytrid fungal infections, currently one of the greatest global threats to vertebrate biodiversity. Temperature and other climatic variables appear to have a role in shaping amphibian skin microbial communities, yet the underlying mechanisms of observed climate-associated shifts in microbiome compositions remains poorly understood. We hypothesise that temperature may have a profound influence on bacteria-bacteria interactions (e.g. antimicrobial production, metabolic pathway coupling) within these communities. Quantifying these microbiome interactions and how they change under relevant future climate scenarios will be critical for understanding ongoing amphibian declines in the face of emergent pathogens and climate change.

The main aim of this placement is to quantify variation in symbiotic and antagonistic interactions between amphibian skin bacterial microbiota community members under different temperatures. Working alongside postgraduate researchers at Bangor, the student will 1) Assist in maintaining in vitro cultures of bacteria strains recently isolated from poison dart frogs (Dendrobates tinctorius), and 2) help to develop and carry out bacteria-bacteria growth inhibition and enhancement assays under a range of climate-change relevant temperatures. This project will provide the student hands-on experience in experimental microbiology, to gain highly valuable skills for a range of research careers in environmental and biological sciences, and/or the biotechnology sector.

For more details, please contact Dr. Amy Ellison (a.ellison@bangor.ac.uk) and Dr Aaron Comeault (a.comeault@bangor.ac.uk).

To apply

We encourage applications from students from all backgrounds. Please check you meet the eligibility criteria before completing the EDI Form 2024 ; this form is a mandatory part of the application process, but contains ‘prefer not to say’ options for all questions asked.

Once you have completed the online data collection form you will receive an email with the application form and details of how to apply to the supervisor. The application form should be completed and emailed to the lead supervisor along with a reference from your personal tutor.