In frogs, preventing early-life gut microbiome disruptions leads to better health

Biologists at the University of Connecticut and University of South Florida have found that a crucial window in the development of tadpoles may influence a frog's ability to fight infectious diseases as an adult.

The scientists showed that an early-life disruption of the gut and skin bacterial communities of tadpoles later affects the adult frogs' ability to fight off parasitic gut worms.

The findings from a research team led by Sarah Knutie of UConn is published in the Nature Communications.

"Our study found that a disruption of bacteria in tadpoles has enduring negative effects on how adult frogs deal with their parasite," Knutie said. "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 project is significant not only for the insight it provides in threats to the health of the world's frogs, but in its potential applicability to understanding the immune systems of mammals and even humans.

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