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Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Tanya Soule


Department of Biology

Sponsor Department/Program

Department of Biology


The animal microbiome has rapidly become of great interest in current research as the microbiome is considered to be of vital importance to the survival of its host. Most studies have focused on bacterial communities due to their large populations and their smaller genomes. However, there are other understudied groups, such as fungi, which may also be important to improving our knowledge of their roles with their hosts. In this study we aim to identify the fungal communities within the cloaca of green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) with the secondary goal of discovering whether these communities vary by ontogenetic shift in habitat. Pelagic-stage turtles were sampled from the Port of Venice, Louisiana while neritic juveniles were sampled from along the beachfront of Santa Rosa Island, Florida. Cloacal swabs were collected and stored at –20˚C until DNA extraction. The fungal ITS regions were amplified using PCR and cloned into the pGEM-T vector for selection and sequencing. Samples from six individual turtles resulted in 30 clones which show that the majority of the fungal communities in the cloaca are dominated by the phylum Ascomycota, which includes the genera Candida, Cladosporium, Podospora, and Epicoccum. Other fungi identified include strains of Exophiala and Malassezia. The overall fungal community of the cloaca is primarily dominated by cellulolytic fungi, especially in the neritic sea turtles. A majority of the fungi identified are common on the dermis of animals, while others, such as Epicoccum nigrum, may even have some antimicrobial properties to aid the host in avoiding pathogens. At present, and to the best of our knowledge, there have been no other studies made in an attempt to characterize and identify the mycobiome of healthy, juvenile green sea turtles



Diversity of the Cloacal Mycobiome of the Juvenile Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas)

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