Pérez-Losada Published in Royal Society Open Science

April 25, 2018

Assistant Professor Marcos Pérez-Losada co-authored an article, "Glucocorticoids modulate gastrointestinal microbiome in a wild bird," in Royal Society Open Science on April 18th, 2018. It has recently been hypothesized that stress exposure (e.g. via glucocorticoid secretion) may dysregulate the bacterial gut microbiome, a crucial ‘organ' in animal health. However, whether stress exposure (e.g. via glucocorticoid secretion) affects the bacterial gut microbiome of natural populations is unknown. We have experimentally altered the basal glucocorticoid level (corticosterone implants) in a wild avian species, the yellow-legged gull Larus michahellis, to assess its effects on the gastrointestinal microbiota. Our results suggest underrepresentation of several microbial taxa in the corticosterone-implanted birds. Importantly, such reduction included potentially pathogenic avian bacteria (e.g. Mycoplasma and Microvirga) and also some commensal taxa that may be beneficial for birds (e.g. Firmicutes). Our findings clearly demonstrate a close link between microbiome communities and glucocorticoid levels in natural populations. Furthermore, they suggest a beneficial effect of stress in reducing the risk of infection that should be explored in future studies.