Microb Ecol. 2022 Nov 2. doi: 10.1007/s00248-022-02135-0. Online ahead of print.
In the last several decades, amphibian populations have been declining worldwide. Many factors have been linked to global amphibian decline, including habitat destruction, pollution, introduced species, global environmental changes, and emerging infectious diseases. Recent studies of amphibian skin infections were mainly focused on the presence of chytridiomycosis, neglecting other members of the frogs’ skin communities. The diversity pattern of fungal dwellers on the skin of green frogs (Pelophylax esculentus complex) was investigated. A total of 100 adults were sampled from three localities in South Banat (northern Serbia) over three consecutive years and detected fungal dwellers were identified using light microscopy and ITS and BenA gene sequencing. Structures belonging to fungi and fungus-like organisms including a variety of spores and different mycelia types were documented in the biofilm formed on amphibian skin, and are classified into 10 groups. In total, 42 fungal isolates were identified to species, section, or genus level. The difference in mycobiota composition between sampling points (localities and green frog taxa) was documented. The highest number of fungal structures and isolates was recorded on the hybrid taxon P. esculentus and locality Stevanove ravnice. Parental species showed a markedly lower diversity than the hybrid taxon and were more similar in diversity patterns and were placed in the same homogenous group. The locality Stevanove ravnice exhibited more pronounced differences in diversity pattern than the other two localities and was placed in a distinct and separate homogenous group. Among the fungal isolates, the highest isolation frequency was documented for Alternaria alternata, Aspergillus sp. sect. Nigri, Epicoccum nigrum, Fusarium proliferatum, and Trichoderma atroviride. Among the documented species, dematiaceous fungi, causative agents of chromomycosis in amphibians, were also recorded in this research with high isolation frequency. Also, some rare fungal species such as Quambalaria cyanescens and Pseudoteniolina globosa are documented for the first time in this research as microbial inhabitants of amphibian skin.