Sarcoptic mange changes bacterial and fungal microbiota of bare-nosed wombats (Vombatus ursinus)

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Background: Sarcoptes scabiei is globally distributed and one of the most impactful mammalian ectoparasites. Sarcoptic mange, caused by infection with S. scabiei, causes disruption of the epidermis and its bacterial microbiota, but its effects on host fungal microbiota and on the microbiota of marsupials in general have not been studied. Here, we (i) examine bacterial and fungal microbiota changes associated with mange in wild bare-nosed wombats (BNWs) and (ii) evaluate whether opportunistic pathogens are potentiated by S. scabiei infection in this species.

Methods: Using Amplicon Sequencing of the 16S rRNA and ITS2 rDNA genes, we detected skin microbiota changes of the bare-nosed wombat (Vombatus ursinus). We compared the alpha and beta diversity among healthy, moderate, and severe disease states using ANOVA and PERMANOVA with nesting. Lastly, we identified taxa that differed between disease states using analysis of composition of microbes (ANCOM) testing.

Results: We detected significant changes in the microbial communities and diversity with mange in BNWs. Severely affected BNWs had lower amplicon sequence variant (ASV) richness compared to that of healthy individuals, and the microbial communities were significantly different between disease states with higher relative abundance of potentially pathogenic microbial taxa in mange-affected BNWs including Staphylococcus sciuri, Corynebacterium spp., Brevibacterium spp., Brachybacterium spp., and Pseudogymnascus spp. and Debaryomyces spp.

Conclusion: This study represents the first investigation of microbial changes in association with sarcoptic mange in a marsupial host, as well as the first investigation of fungal microbial changes on the skin of any host suffering from sarcoptic mange. Our results are broadly consistent with bacterial microbiota changes observed in humans, pigs, canids, and Iberian ibex, suggesting the epidermal microbial impacts of mange may be generalisable across host species. We recommend that future studies investigating skin microbiota changes include both bacterial and fungal data to gain a more complete picture of the effects of sarcoptic mange.

Original languageEnglish
Article number323
JournalParasites & Vectors
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2022

    Research areas

  • Sarcoptic mange, Sarcoptes scabiei, Bare-nosed wombat, Microbiota, Dysbiosis, Staphylococcus sciuri, Corynebacterium, Pseudogymnascus, Debaryomyces, SKIN MICROBIOME, SCABIES, DISEASE, IDENTIFICATION, DIVERSITY, INFECTION, INSIGHTS, DATABASE

ID: 320117784