This study, from Illinois, focuses on the alteration of the Massasaugas snake skin microbiome by fungal diseases. Massasaugas are extremely susceptible to infection by Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola which will cause open sores and a high mortality rate within infected populations. Unfortunately, the mechanism by which this fungus causes disease is unknown. To better understand how this disease spreads and effects afflicted snakes, scientists have begun to characterize the skin microbiome of Eastern Massasaugas rattlesnakes. The scientists determined that Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola alters the skins bacterial and fungal microbiome not only at the site of the sore, but also the microbiome further from the symptomatic region.
Scientists hope that their findings will allow for better treatments in afflicted populations as well as discerning the mechanism for which snakes are infected.
Matthew C. Allender, Sarah Baker, Megan Britton, Angela D. Kent. Snake fungal disease alters skin bacterial and fungal diversity in an endangered rattlesnake. Scientific Reports, 2018; 8 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-30709-x09.27.18