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Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

Association between the skin microbiome and MHC class II diversity in an amphibian

Cortazar-Chinarro, M.; Richter-Boix, A.; Rodin-Morch, P.; Halvarsson, P.; Logue, J. B.; Laurila, A.; Hoglund, J.


Microbiomes play an important role in determining the ecology and behaviour of their hosts. However, questions remain pertaining to how host genetics shape microbiomes, and how microbiome composition influences host fitness. We explored the effects of geography, evolutionary history and host genetics on the skin microbiome diversity and structure in a widespread amphibian. More specifically, we examined the association between bacterial diversity and composition and the major histocompatibility complex class II exon 2 diversity in 12 moor frog (Rana arvalis) populations belonging to two geographical clusters that show signatures of past and ongoing differential selection. We found that while bacterial alpha diversity did not differ between the two clusters, MHC alleles/supertypes and genetic diversity varied considerably depending on geography and evolutionary history. Bacterial alpha diversity was positively correlated with expected MHC heterozygosity and negatively with MHC nucleotide diversity. Furthermore, bacterial community composition showed significant variation between the two geographical clusters and between specific MHC alleles/supertypes. Our findings emphasize the importance of historical demographic events on hologenomic variation and provide new insights into how immunogenetic host variability and microbial diversity may jointly influence host fitness with consequences for disease susceptibility and population persistence.


bacterial diversity; host-associated microbiome; MHC class II beta chain; MHC IIB; Rana arvalis

Published in

Molecular Ecology
2024, Volume: 33, number: 1, article number: e17198
Publisher: WILEY