Common Cutaneous Bacteria Isolated from Snakes Inhibit Growth of Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola.Ecohealth. 2018 03; 15(1):109-120.E
There is increasing concern regarding potential impacts of snake fungal disease (SFD), caused by Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola (Oo), on free-ranging snake populations in the eastern USA. The snake cutaneous microbiome likely serves as the first line of defense against Oo and other pathogens; however, little is known about microbial associations in snakes. The objective of this study was to better define the composition and immune function of the snake cutaneous microbiome. Eight timber rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus) and four black racers (Coluber constrictor) were captured in Arkansas and Tennessee, with some snakes exhibiting signs of SFD. Oo was detected through real-time qPCR in five snakes. Additional histopathological techniques confirmed a diagnosis of SFD in one racer, the species' first confirmed case of SFD in Tennessee. Fifty-eight bacterial and five fungal strains were isolated from skin swabs and identified with Sanger sequencing. Non-metric multidimensional scaling and PERMANOVA analyses indicated that the culturable microbiome does not differ between snake species. Fifteen bacterial strains isolated from rattlesnakes and a single strain isolated from a racer inhibited growth of Oo in vitro. Results shed light on the culturable cutaneous microbiome of snakes and probiotic members that may play a role in fighting an emergent disease.