Common cuckoos (Cuculus canorus) affect the bacterial diversity of the eggshells of their great reed warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus) hosts

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Abstract

The common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) is an avian brood parasite, laying its eggs in the nests of other bird species, where these hosts incubate the parasitic eggs, feed and rear the nestlings. The appearance of a cuckoo egg in a host nest may change the bacterial community in the nest. This may have consequences on the hatchability of host eggs, even when hosts reject the parasitic egg, typically within six days after parasitism. The present study revealed the bacterial community of cuckoo eggshells and those of the great reed warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus), one of the main hosts of cuckoos. We compared host eggs from non-parasitized clutches, as well as host and cuckoo eggs from parasitized clutches. As incubation may change bacterial assemblages on eggshells, we compared these egg types in two stages: the egg-laying stage, when incubation has not been started, and the mid-incubation stage (ca. on days 5–7 in incubation), where heat from the incubating female dries eggshells. Our results obtained by the 16S rRNA gene sequencing technique showed that fresh host and cuckoo eggs had partially different bacterial communities, but they became more similar during incubation in parasitized nests. Cluster analysis revealed that fresh cuckoo eggs and incubated host eggs in unparasitized nests (where no cuckoo effect could have happened) were the most dissimilar from the other groups of eggs. Cuckoo eggs did not reduce the hatchability of great reed warbler eggs. Our results on the cuckoo-great reed warbler relationship supported the idea that brood parasites may change bacterial microbiota in the host nest. Further studies should reveal how bacterial communities of cuckoo eggshells may vary by host-specific races (gentes) of cuckoos.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0191364
JournalPLoS One
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2018

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Egg Shell
Cuculus canorus
Cuculidae
Songbirds
Clutches
egg shell
Eggs
Cluster analysis
Birds
nests
Genes
bacterial communities
Ovum
Parasites
Acrocephalus arundinaceus
oviposition
parasites
Microbiota
rRNA Genes
Cluster Analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

Cite this

@article{6a6c52eada894cba8335eb2c9b31ed64,
title = "Common cuckoos (Cuculus canorus) affect the bacterial diversity of the eggshells of their great reed warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus) hosts",
abstract = "The common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) is an avian brood parasite, laying its eggs in the nests of other bird species, where these hosts incubate the parasitic eggs, feed and rear the nestlings. The appearance of a cuckoo egg in a host nest may change the bacterial community in the nest. This may have consequences on the hatchability of host eggs, even when hosts reject the parasitic egg, typically within six days after parasitism. The present study revealed the bacterial community of cuckoo eggshells and those of the great reed warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus), one of the main hosts of cuckoos. We compared host eggs from non-parasitized clutches, as well as host and cuckoo eggs from parasitized clutches. As incubation may change bacterial assemblages on eggshells, we compared these egg types in two stages: the egg-laying stage, when incubation has not been started, and the mid-incubation stage (ca. on days 5–7 in incubation), where heat from the incubating female dries eggshells. Our results obtained by the 16S rRNA gene sequencing technique showed that fresh host and cuckoo eggs had partially different bacterial communities, but they became more similar during incubation in parasitized nests. Cluster analysis revealed that fresh cuckoo eggs and incubated host eggs in unparasitized nests (where no cuckoo effect could have happened) were the most dissimilar from the other groups of eggs. Cuckoo eggs did not reduce the hatchability of great reed warbler eggs. Our results on the cuckoo-great reed warbler relationship supported the idea that brood parasites may change bacterial microbiota in the host nest. Further studies should reveal how bacterial communities of cuckoo eggshells may vary by host-specific races (gentes) of cuckoos.",
author = "Nikoletta Geltsch and Z. Elek and L. Manczinger and C. V{\'a}gv{\"o}lgyi and C. Mosk{\'a}t",
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doi = "10.1371/journal.pone.0191364",
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T1 - Common cuckoos (Cuculus canorus) affect the bacterial diversity of the eggshells of their great reed warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus) hosts

AU - Geltsch, Nikoletta

AU - Elek, Z.

AU - Manczinger, L.

AU - Vágvölgyi, C.

AU - Moskát, C.

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N2 - The common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) is an avian brood parasite, laying its eggs in the nests of other bird species, where these hosts incubate the parasitic eggs, feed and rear the nestlings. The appearance of a cuckoo egg in a host nest may change the bacterial community in the nest. This may have consequences on the hatchability of host eggs, even when hosts reject the parasitic egg, typically within six days after parasitism. The present study revealed the bacterial community of cuckoo eggshells and those of the great reed warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus), one of the main hosts of cuckoos. We compared host eggs from non-parasitized clutches, as well as host and cuckoo eggs from parasitized clutches. As incubation may change bacterial assemblages on eggshells, we compared these egg types in two stages: the egg-laying stage, when incubation has not been started, and the mid-incubation stage (ca. on days 5–7 in incubation), where heat from the incubating female dries eggshells. Our results obtained by the 16S rRNA gene sequencing technique showed that fresh host and cuckoo eggs had partially different bacterial communities, but they became more similar during incubation in parasitized nests. Cluster analysis revealed that fresh cuckoo eggs and incubated host eggs in unparasitized nests (where no cuckoo effect could have happened) were the most dissimilar from the other groups of eggs. Cuckoo eggs did not reduce the hatchability of great reed warbler eggs. Our results on the cuckoo-great reed warbler relationship supported the idea that brood parasites may change bacterial microbiota in the host nest. Further studies should reveal how bacterial communities of cuckoo eggshells may vary by host-specific races (gentes) of cuckoos.

AB - The common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) is an avian brood parasite, laying its eggs in the nests of other bird species, where these hosts incubate the parasitic eggs, feed and rear the nestlings. The appearance of a cuckoo egg in a host nest may change the bacterial community in the nest. This may have consequences on the hatchability of host eggs, even when hosts reject the parasitic egg, typically within six days after parasitism. The present study revealed the bacterial community of cuckoo eggshells and those of the great reed warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus), one of the main hosts of cuckoos. We compared host eggs from non-parasitized clutches, as well as host and cuckoo eggs from parasitized clutches. As incubation may change bacterial assemblages on eggshells, we compared these egg types in two stages: the egg-laying stage, when incubation has not been started, and the mid-incubation stage (ca. on days 5–7 in incubation), where heat from the incubating female dries eggshells. Our results obtained by the 16S rRNA gene sequencing technique showed that fresh host and cuckoo eggs had partially different bacterial communities, but they became more similar during incubation in parasitized nests. Cluster analysis revealed that fresh cuckoo eggs and incubated host eggs in unparasitized nests (where no cuckoo effect could have happened) were the most dissimilar from the other groups of eggs. Cuckoo eggs did not reduce the hatchability of great reed warbler eggs. Our results on the cuckoo-great reed warbler relationship supported the idea that brood parasites may change bacterial microbiota in the host nest. Further studies should reveal how bacterial communities of cuckoo eggshells may vary by host-specific races (gentes) of cuckoos.

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