[MARMAM] New paper: Antarctic humpback skin microbiomes

Amy Apprill aapprill at whoi.edu
Fri Feb 16 14:29:21 PST 2018

Dear colleagues,

We are pleased to share our new open-access publication:

Bierlich KC, Miller CA, DeForce E, Friedlaender A, Johnston DW, Apprill 
A. 2018. Temporal and regional variability in the skin microbiomes of 
humpback whales along the Western Antarctic Peninsula. Applied and 
Environmental Microbiology. 84:e02574-17.//

Open access paper: http://aem.asm.org/content/84/5/e02574-17.full
Press release: 

Abstract: The skin is the first line of defense between an animal and 
its environment, and disruptions in skin-associated microorganisms can 
be linked to an animal's health and nutritional state. To better 
understand the skin microbiome of large whales, high-throughput 
sequencing of partial small subunit rRNA genes was used to study the 
skin-associated bacteria of 89 seemingly healthy humpback whales 
(Megaptera novaeangliae) sampled along the Western Antarctic Peninsula 
(WAP) during early (2010) and late (2013) austral summers. Six core 
groups of bacteria were present in 93% or more of all humpback skin 
samples. A shift was observed in the average relative abundances of 
these core bacteria over time, with the emergence of four additional 
core groups of bacteria that corresponded to a decrease in water 
temperature, possibly caused by season- or foraging-related changes in 
skin biochemistry that influenced microbial growth, or other temporal 
factors. The skin microbiome differed between whales sampled at several 
regional locations along the WAP, suggesting that environmental factors 
or population may also influence the whale skin microbiome. Overall, the 
skin microbiome of humpback whales appears to provide insight into 
animal- and environment-related factors and may serve as a useful 
indicator for animal health or ecosystem alterations.

Feel free to reach out to me or the co-authors with questions.
Best wishes,

Amy Apprill
Associate Scientist
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
266 Woods Hole Road
Woods Hole, MA 02543
(508) 289-2649
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