About this Research Topic
Human activities are now recognized as being the main drivers of contemporary environmental change. While consequences of anthropogenic change at population and species levels are well documented, effects on interspecific interactions are less understood. The interaction between animal hosts and their associated microbiomes has recently received increasing attention within the context of global change. This focus is driven by the widely recognized importance of the microbiome for host fitness, adaptive potential, and by the accrued evidence that such microbial communities are at least partly shaped by the host’s environment. In support of this, host-associated microbiomes have recently been shown to vary with several key components of global change such as habitat degradation and fragmentation, urbanization, climate change, and pollution. However, studies investigating such effects in natural populations are still scarce and our understanding of the processes involved remains limited.
The aim of this Research Topic is to bring together a collection of articles investigating whether and to what extent anthropogenic environmental perturbations may induce variation in host-associated microbiomes in wild animals. We particularly encourage studies that include measures of host condition/fitness in order to 1) detect host condition-dependent microbial community changes and/or 2) determine the role of the microbiome in mediating host responses to environmental perturbations, by either increasing or mitigating direct detrimental effects on the host. We also welcome studies that go beyond 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing, by incorporating complementary functional analyses of the microbiome (metagenomic, meta-transcriptomic, or metabolomic analyses), as such approaches are particularly relevant to address the effects of induced microbial changes on host fitness and adaptive potential.
We solicit original research articles using observational or experimental (or a combination of) approaches, assessing the influence of various drivers of global change (see below for a non-comprehensive list) on host-associated bacterial communities (gastro-intestinal, skin, feather, glands, reproductive, etc.) of different animal host (vertebrate and invertebrate) species within natural populations. We also welcome reviews, commentaries, and perspectives.
Drivers of global change/anthropogenic perturbations that may be considered are:
• Changes in land, freshwater, and sea use (agriculture, urbanization, deforestation, aquaculture/ mariculture, eutrophication, etc.), or habitat modification
• Climate change (temperature, precipitations, etc.)
• Air, soil, and water pollution (gases, particulate matter, pesticides, fertilizers, various chemicals, heavy metals, antibiotics, micro- and nano-plastics, radioactive contamination, etc.)
• Invasive alien species/pathogens, human-induced modifications in community structure or food resources
Potential themes include (non-exhaustive list):
• Effect of a combination of perturbations on host-associated microbiota (additive or interactive effects)
• Comparing the microbiome response to perturbation in several parts of the host body or in two or more host-species
• Influence of host traits/characteristics in modulating the impact of anthropogenic change on the microbiome / disentangling direct environmental and indirect host-mediated effects on the microbiome
• Host-associated microbiome structure and diversity as a bioindicator of anthropogenic and/or environmental perturbations
• The microbiome as a mediator of host phenotypic and metabolic plasticity, modulating host ability to respond adaptively to environmental change
• Role of host-associated microbiomes in modifying selection pressures and adaptive processes in host populations and more generally on eco-evolutionary dynamics
Keywords: host-associated microbiome, animal, human-induced perturbations, global change, anthropogenic gradient
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.