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Journal Articles Molecular Ecology Year : 2022

Microbiota composition and diversity of multiple body sites vary with reproductive performance in a seabird

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Abstract

The microbiota is suggested to be a fundamental contributor to host reproduction and survival, but associations between microbiota and fitness are rare, especially for wild animals. Here, we tested the association between microbiota and two proxies of breeding performance in multiple body sites of the black-legged kittiwake, a seabird species. First we found that, in females, non-breeders (i.e., birds that did not lay eggs) hosted different microbiota composition to that of breeders in neck and flank feathers, in the choanae, in the outer-bill and in the cloacae, but not in preen feathers and tracheae. These differences in microbiota might reflect variations in age or individual quality between breeders and non-breeders. Second, we found that better female breeders (i.e., with higher body condition, earlier laying date, heavier eggs, larger clutch, and higher hatching success) had lower abundance of several Corynebacteriaceae in cloaca than poorer female breeders, suggesting that these bacteria might be pathogenic. Third, in females, better breeders had different microbiota composition and lower microbiota diversity in feathers, especially in preen feathers. They had also reduced dispersion in microbiota composition across body sites. These results might suggest that good breeding females are able to control their feather microbiota - potentially through preen secretions - more tightly than poor breeding females. We did not find strong evidence for an association between reproductive outcome and microbiota in males. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that natural variation in the microbiota is associated with differences in host fitness in wild animals, but the causal relationships remain to be investigated.
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Dates and versions

hal-03770687 , version 1 (06-09-2022)

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Sarah Leclaire, Maxime Pineaux, Pierrick Blanchard, Joël White, Scott Hatch. Microbiota composition and diversity of multiple body sites vary with reproductive performance in a seabird. Molecular Ecology, In press, ⟨10.1111/mec.16398⟩. ⟨hal-03770687⟩
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