What is it about?

The bacteria that live in a lizard cloaca (excretory and reproductive organ) are important for fitness and offspring survival. We found that different species of lizard host different bacteria even when in a similar environment, but also that the same species of lizard in a different habitat can have a different bacterial community.

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Why is it important?

We know that microbes are important for health of all organisms, but much of the research is done on model animals or in the lab. It is important to learn about how the microbiome develops in natural conditions, in a wide range of organisms. These lizards are particularly interesting because they carry special microbes that protect their eggs from fungus in the soil. We found two factors that affect the microbiome -- environment and relatedness-- which are interesting areas for future research on many types of organism.


Sceloporus lizards are a really interesting group to work with because there are so many species that thrive in all kinds of environments. It is also exciting to move outside the typical mammal-focus of most microbiome studies and expand our knowledge to some more overlooked organisms. This study is a great basis for some future research that we are excited about.

Stacey Weiss
University of Puget Sound

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Cloacal microbiomes of sympatric and allopatric Sceloporus lizards vary with environment and host relatedness, PLoS ONE, December 2022, PLOS,
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0279288.
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