Undergraduate Honors Thesis Projects

Date of Award

Spring 3-29-2022

Document Type

Honors Paper

Degree Name



Biology & Earth Science


Dr. Sarah Bouchard, Dr. Brandonn Sinn

First Committee Member

Dr. Sarah Bouchard

Second Committee Member

Dr. Brandon Sinn

Third Committee Member

Dr. Michele Acker


Tadpole, Microbiome, Gut Microbiome, Anuran, Host Species

Subject Categories

Bacteriology | Biology | Environmental Microbiology and Microbial Ecology | Higher Education | Life Sciences | Microbiology


Recent studies focusing on the skin and gut microbiome of vertebrates have found how important microbiomes are to maintaining host health. Understanding the role the gut microbiome plays to host health is of great importance for conservation. Less is known about the gut microbiome than the skin microbiome for amphibians. Literature is especially lacking for local Ohio anuran species. The purpose of this study was to establish the baseline composition of the gut microbiome for local Ohio anurans and to determine whether host species or habitat is the best predictor of gut microbiome composition. Tadpoles were collected from seven different central Ohio locations including: (1) Heritage Park, two trails from (2, 3) Inniswood Metro Gardens, (4) Boyer Nature Preserve, (5) Sharon Woods Metro Park, (6) Highlands Park, (7) a private pond in Galena, Ohio. Five species were collected in total including Lithobates [Rana] sylvaticus, Lithobates pipiens, Anaxyrus americanus, Lithobates clamitans, and Pseudacris crucifer. I removed their GI tracts, extracted the DNA, then sent the DNA samples to MSU for Illumina sequencing. QIIME 2 was used to analyze and describe the microbiomes of the samples and calculate alpha and beta phylogenetic diversity. Firmicutes, Bacteroidota, and Proteobacteria were the three most abundant phyla across the samples. Alpha diversity was high across samples. Beta diversity showed location to be a significant driver of gut microbiome composition for three out of four of our major comparisons. Future directions include comparing tadpole gut microbiomes to the composition of their diet and more observational research of the gut microbiome from wild samples of amphibians.

Licensing Permission

Copyright, all rights reserved. Fair Use