Climate warming reduces gut microbiota diversity in a vertebrate ectotherm


Climate change is now considered to be the greatest threat to biodiversity and ecological networks, but its impacts on the bacterial communities associated with plants and animals remain largely unknown. Here, we studied the consequences of climate warming on the gut bacterial communities of an ectotherm, the common lizard (Zootoca vivipara), using a semi-natural experimental approach. We found that 2–3 °C warmer climates cause a 34% loss of populations’ microbiota diversity, with possible negative consequences for host survival.

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Figure 1: Impact of climate on various outcomes.


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We thank A. Cave, B. Rémurier, L. Geidel and A. Fournier for fieldwork assistance, H. Holota for performing genetic extractions, and J. Chave and G. Yvon-Durocher for their helpful comments on the manuscript. We are also grateful to the genotoul bioinformatics platform Toulouse Midi-Pyrenees (Bioinfo Genotoul) for providing computing and storage resources. This work was carried out at the Station d’Ecologie Theorique et Experimentale (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) UMR 5321) and the Laboratoire Evolution et Diversité Biologique (CNRS, Université Paul Sabatier, Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Formation de l’Enseignement Agricole (ENSFEA), UMR 5174), and was supported by the Laboratoires d’Excellence TULIP (ANR-10-LABX-41) and CEBA (ANR-10-LABX-25-01). J.C. was supported by an ANR-12-JSV7-0004-01, and J.W. by an AOI Fonds Scientifique – ENSFEA. This work was supported by an ‘Investissements d'avenir’ programme from the Agence Nationale de la recherche number ANR-11-INBS-0001AnaEE-Services.

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E.B., J.W. and J.C. designed the study. E.B. and J.C. performed the experiments. E.B. collected genetic data, L.D.G. and J.W. extracted microbial genetic data, and M.R. extracted and analysed lizard genetic data. S.J., J.W. and L.Z. performed molecular and bioinformatics analyses, and E.B., J.C., L.D.G. and S.J. analysed the data. E.B. wrote the first draft, and J.C., J.W., S.J. and L.Z. contributed significantly to the writing of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Elvire Bestion.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Supplementary Information

Supplementary Methods, Supplementary Results, Supplementary References, Supplementary Figures 1–5, Supplementary Tables 1–20. (PDF 1068 kb)

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Bestion, E., Jacob, S., Zinger, L. et al. Climate warming reduces gut microbiota diversity in a vertebrate ectotherm. Nat Ecol Evol 1, 0161 (2017).

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