Samantha Fontaine - Kohl Lab
"Links between gut microbial communities and ectotherm thermal tolerance"
Wednesday, February 24, 2021
Virtual Zoom seminar
Ectothermic animals are expected to be particularly vulnerable to climate change. Predicting their physiological responses to increasing temperature requires an understanding of the mechanisms that contribute to their thermal tolerance. Thermal tolerance is a complex and plastic trait that can be shaped by several physiological and environmental factors. In invertebrate systems, microbial symbionts have been shown to impact host thermal tolerance. However, the impact of gut microbial communities on the thermal tolerance of ectothermic vertebrates has, until now, remained unknown. Here, I show that manipulating the gut microbiome of an ectothermic vertebrate, the green frog tadpole, reduces the host’s heat tolerance and decreases their fitness under heat stress. Further, I explore several potential biological mechanisms that may be responsible for these effects. These results are important as animals face threats from both accelerating climate change, and the loss of wild microbial diversity.