Imperial College London

Dr Kieran Bates

Faculty of MedicineSchool of Public Health

Visiting Researcher







VC9Variety Club WingSt Mary's Campus





Publication Type

9 results found

Schmeller DS, Urbach D, Bates K, Catalan J, Cog─âlniceanu D, Fisher MC, Friesen J, F├╝reder L, Gaube V, Haver M, Jacobsen D, Le Roux G, Lin Y-P, Loyau A, Machate O, Mayer A, Palomo I, Plutzar C, Sentenac H, Sommaruga R, Tiberti R, Ripple WJet al., 2022, Scientists' warning of threats to mountains., Sci Total Environ, Vol: 853

Mountains are an essential component of the global life-support system. They are characterized by a rugged, heterogenous landscape with rapidly changing environmental conditions providing myriad ecological niches over relatively small spatial scales. Although montane species are well adapted to life at extremes, they are highly vulnerable to human derived ecosystem threats. Here we build on the manifesto 'World Scientists' Warning to Humanity', issued by the Alliance of World Scientists, to outline the major threats to mountain ecosystems. We highlight climate change as the greatest threat to mountain ecosystems, which are more impacted than their lowland counterparts. We further discuss the cascade of "knock-on" effects of climate change such as increased UV radiation, altered hydrological cycles, and altered pollution profiles; highlighting the biological and socio-economic consequences. Finally, we present how intensified use of mountains leads to overexploitation and abstraction of water, driving changes in carbon stock, reducing biodiversity, and impacting ecosystem functioning. These perturbations can provide opportunities for invasive species, parasites and pathogens to colonize these fragile habitats, driving further changes and losses of micro- and macro-biodiversity, as well further impacting ecosystem services. Ultimately, imbalances in the normal functioning of mountain ecosystems will lead to changes in vital biological, biochemical, and chemical processes, critically reducing ecosystem health with widespread repercussions for animal and human wellbeing. Developing tools in species/habitat conservation and future restoration is therefore essential if we are to effectively mitigate against the declining health of mountains.

Journal article

Bates KA, Sommer U, Hopkins KP, Shelton JMG, Wierzbicki C, Sergeant C, Tapley B, Michaels CJ, Schmeller DS, Loyau A, Bosch J, Viant MR, Harrison XA, Garner TWJ, Fisher MCet al., 2022, Microbiome function predicts amphibian chytridiomycosis disease dynamics, Microbiome, Vol: 10, ISSN: 2049-2618

Background The fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) threatens amphibian biodiversity and ecosystem stability worldwide. Amphibian skin microbial community structure has been linked to clinical outcome of Bd infections, yet its overall functional importance is poorly understood. Methods Microbiome taxonomic and functional profiles were assessed using high-throughput bacterial 16S rRNA and fungal ITS2 gene sequencing, bacterial shotgun metagenomics and skin mucosal metabolomics. We sampled 56 wild midwife toads (Alytes obstetricans) from montane populations exhibiting Bd epizootic or enzootic disease dynamics. In addition, to assess whether disease-specific microbiome profiles were linked to microbe-mediated protection or Bd-induced perturbation, we performed a laboratory Bd challenge experiment whereby 40 young adult A. obstetricans were exposed to Bd or a control sham infection. We measured temporal changes in the microbiome as well as functional profiles of Bd exposed and control animals at peak infection. Results Microbiome community structure and function differed in wild populations based on infection history and in experimental control versus Bd-exposed animals. Bd exposure in the laboratory resulted in dynamic changes in microbiome community structure and functional differences, with infection clearance in all but one infected animal. Sphingobacterium, Stenotrophomonas and an unclassified Commamonadaceae were associated with wild epizootic dynamics and also had reduced abundance in laboratory Bd-exposed animals that cleared infection, indicating a negative association with Bd resistance. This was further supported by microbe-metabolite integration which identified functionally relevant taxa driving disease outcome, of which Sphingobacterium and Bd were most influential in wild epizootic dynamics. The strong correlation between microbial taxonomic community composition and skin metabolome in the laboratory and field are inconsistent with microbia

Journal article

Bates KA, Higgins C, Neiman M, King KCet al., 2022, Turning the tide on sex and the microbiota in aquatic animals, Hydrobiologia, ISSN: 0018-8158

Sex-based differences in animal microbiota are increasingly recognized as of biological importance. While most animal biomass is found in aquatic ecosystems and many water-dwelling species are of high economic and ecological value, biological sex is rarely included as an explanatory variable in studies of the aquatic animal microbiota. In this opinion piece, we argue for greater consideration of host sex in studying the microbiota of aquatic animals, emphasizing the many advancements that this information could provide in the life sciences, from the evolution of sex to aquaculture.

Journal article

Bates KA, Bolton JS, King KC, 2021, A globally ubiquitous symbiont can drive experimental host evolution, MOLECULAR ECOLOGY, Vol: 30, Pages: 3882-3892, ISSN: 0962-1083

Journal article

Stevens EJ, Bates KA, King KC, 2021, Host microbiota can facilitate pathogen infection., PLoS Pathog, Vol: 17

Animals live in symbiosis with numerous microbe species. While some can protect hosts from infection and benefit host health, components of the microbiota or changes to the microbial landscape have the potential to facilitate infections and worsen disease severity. Pathogens and pathobionts can exploit microbiota metabolites, or can take advantage of a depletion in host defences and changing conditions within a host, to cause opportunistic infection. The microbiota might also favour a more virulent evolutionary trajectory for invading pathogens. In this review, we consider the ways in which a host microbiota contributes to infectious disease throughout the host's life and potentially across evolutionary time. We further discuss the implications of these negative outcomes for microbiota manipulation and engineering in disease management.

Journal article

Fisher MC, Ghosh P, Shelton JMG, Bates K, Brookes L, Wierzbicki C, Rosa GM, Farrer RA, Aanensen DM, Alvarado-Rybak M, Bataille A, Berger L, Boell S, Bosch J, Clare FC, Courtois EA, Crottini A, Cunningham AA, Doherty-Bone TM, Gebresenbet F, Gower DJ, Hoglund J, James TY, Jenkinson TS, Kosch TA, Lambertini C, Laurila A, Lin C-F, Loyau A, Martel A, Meurling S, Miaud C, Minting P, Ndriantsoa S, O'Hanlon SJ, Pasmans F, Rakotonanahary T, Rabemananjara FCE, Ribeiro LP, Schmeller DS, Schmidt BR, Skerratt L, Smith F, Soto-Azat C, Tessa G, Toledo LF, Valenzuela-Sanchez A, Verster R, Voeroes J, Waldman B, Webb RJ, Weldon C, Wombwell E, Zamudio KR, Longcore JE, Garner TWJet al., 2018, Development and worldwide use of non-lethal, and minimal population-level impact, protocols for the isolation of amphibian chytrid fungi, Scientific Reports, Vol: 8, ISSN: 2045-2322

Parasitic chytrid fungi have emerged as a significant threat to amphibian species worldwide, necessitating the development of techniques to isolate these pathogens into culture for research purposes. However, early methods of isolating chytrids from their hosts relied on killing amphibians. We modified a pre-existing protocol for isolating chytrids from infected animals to use toe clips and biopsies from toe webbing rather than euthanizing hosts, and distributed the protocol to researchers as part of the BiodivERsA project RACE; here called the RML protocol. In tandem, we developed a lethal procedure for isolating chytrids from tadpole mouthparts. Reviewing a database of use a decade after their inception, we find that these methods have been applied across 5 continents, 23 countries and in 62 amphibian species. Isolation of chytrids by the non-lethal RML protocol occured in 18% of attempts with 207 fungal isolates and three species of chytrid being recovered. Isolation of chytrids from tadpoles occured in 43% of attempts with 334 fungal isolates of one species (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) being recovered. Together, these methods have resulted in Non-lethal isolation of chytrids from amphibiansa si gnificant reduction and refinement of our use of threatened amphibian species and have improved our ability to work with this group of emerging pathogens.

Journal article

Fisher M, Murray K, 2018, Recent Asian origin of chytrid fungi causing global amphibian declines, Science, Vol: 360, Pages: 621-627, ISSN: 0036-8075

Globalized infectious diseases are causing species declines worldwide, but their source often remains elusive. We used whole-genome sequencing to solve the spatiotemporal origins of the most devastating panzootic to date, caused by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, a proximate driver of global amphibian declines. We traced the source of B. dendrobatidis to the Korean peninsula, where one lineage, BdASIA-1, exhibits the genetic hallmarks of an ancestral population that seeded the panzootic. We date the emergence of this pathogen to the early 20th century, coinciding with the global expansion of commercial trade in amphibians, and we show that intercontinental transmission is ongoing. Our findings point to East Asia as a geographic hotspot for B. dendrobatidis biodiversity and the original source of these lineages that now parasitize amphibians worldwide.

Journal article

Bates K, Clare F, O'Hanlon S, Bosch J, Brookes L, McLaughlin E, Daniel O, Garner T, Fisher M, Harrison Xet al., 2018, Amphibian chytridiomycosis outbreak dynamics are linked with host skin bacterial community structure, Nature Communications, Vol: 9, ISSN: 2041-1723

Host-associated microbes are vital for combatting infections and maintaining health. In amphibians, certain skin-associated bacteria inhibit the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), yet our understanding of host microbial ecology and its role in disease outbreaks is limited. We sampled skin-associated bacteria and Bd from Pyrenean midwife toad populations exhibiting enzootic or epizootic disease dynamics. We demonstrate that bacterial communities differ between life stages with few shared taxa, indicative of restructuring at metamorphosis. We detected a significant effect of infection history on metamorph skin microbiota, with reduced bacterial diversity in epizootic populations and differences in community structure and predicted function. Genome sequencing of Bd isolates supports a single introduction to the Pyrenees and reveals no association between pathogen genetics and epidemiological trends. Our findings provide an ecologically relevant insight into the microbial ecology of amphibian skin and highlight the relative importance of host microbiota and pathogen genetics in predicting disease outcome.

Journal article

Dillon MJ, Bowkett AE, Bungard MJ, Beckman KM, O'Brien MF, Bates K, Fisher MC, Stevens JR, Thornton CRet al., 2016, Tracking the amphibian pathogens Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis and Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans using a highly specific monoclonal antibody and lateral- flow technology, Microbial Biotechnology, Vol: 10, Pages: 381-394, ISSN: 1751-7915

The fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) causes chytridiomycosis, a lethal epizootic disease of amphibians. Rapid identification of the pathogen and biosecurity is essential to prevent its spread, but current laboratory-based tests are time-consuming and require specialist equipment. Here, we describe the generation of an IgM monoclonal antibody (mAb), 5C4, specific to Bd as well as the related salamander and newt pathogen Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal). The mAb, which binds to a glycoprotein antigen present on the surface of zoospores, sporangia and zoosporangia, was used to develop a lateral-flow assay (LFA) for rapid (15 min) detection of the pathogens. The LFA detects known lineages of Bd and also Bsal, as well as the closely related fungus Homolaphlyctis polyrhiza, but does not detect a wide range of related and unrelated fungi and oomycetes likely to be present in amphibian habitats. When combined with a simple swabbing procedure, the LFA was 100% accurate in detecting the water-soluble 5C4 antigen present in skin, foot and pelvic samples from frogs, newts and salamanders naturally infected with Bd or Bsal. Our results demonstrate the potential of the portable LFA as a rapid qualitative assay for tracking these amphibian pathogens and as an adjunct test to nucleic acid-based detection methods.

Journal article

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