Elasmobranch microbiomes

Published on
15. September 2021

Elasmobranch microbiomes: emerging patterns and implications for host health and ecology

Cameron T. Perry, Zoe A. Pratte, Ana Clavere-Graciette, Kim B. Ritchie, Robert E. Hueter, Alisa L. Newton, G. Christopher Fischer, Elizabeth A. Dinsdale, Michael P. Doane, Krystan A. Wilkinson, Kim Bassos-Hull, Kady Lyons, Alistair D. M. Dove, Lisa A. Hoopes, Frank J. Stewart


Elasmobranchs (sharks, skates and rays) are of broad ecological, economic, and societal value. These globally important fishes are experiencing sharp population declines as a result of human activity in the oceans. Research to understand elasmobranch ecology and conservation is critical and has now begun to explore the role of body-associated microbiomes in shaping elasmobranch health. Here, we review the burgeoning efforts to understand elasmobranch microbiomes, highlighting microbiome variation among gastrointestinal, oral, skin, and blood-associated niches. We identify major bacterial lineages in the microbiome, challenges to the field, key unanswered questions, and avenues for future work. We argue for prioritizing research to determine how microbiomes interact mechanistically with the unique physiology of elasmobranchs, potentially identifying roles in host immunity, disease, nutrition, and waste processing. Understanding elasmobranch–microbiome interactions is critical for predicting how sharks and rays respond to a changing ocean and for managing healthy populations in managed care.

anim microbiome 3, 61 (2021). DOI: 10.1186/s42523-021-00121-4


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