Coordinated change at the colony level in fruit bat fur microbiomes through time

Oren Kolodny*, Maya Weinberg, Leah Reshef, Lee Harten, Abraham Hefetz, Uri Gophna, Marcus W. Feldman, Yossi Yovel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


The host-associated microbiome affects individual health and behaviour, and may be influenced by local environmental conditions. However, little is known about microbiomes’ temporal dynamics in free-living species compared with their dynamics in humans and model organisms, especially in body sites other than the gut. Here, we investigate longitudinal changes in the fur microbiome of captive and free-living Egyptian fruit bats. We find that, in contrast to patterns described in humans and other mammals, the prominent dynamics is of change over time at the level of the colony as a whole. On average, a pair of fur microbiome samples from different individuals in the same colony collected on the same date are more similar to one another than a pair of samples from the same individual collected at different time points. This pattern suggests that the whole colony may be the appropriate biological unit for understanding some of the roles of the host microbiome in social bats’ ecology and evolution. This pattern of synchronized colony changes over time is also reflected in the profile of volatile compounds in the bats’ fur, but differs from the more individualized pattern found in the bats’ gut microbiome.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)116-124
Number of pages9
JournalNature Ecology and Evolution
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.


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