Scholarly Works, Global Change Center

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  • Climate change linked to vampire bat expansion and rabies virus spillover
    Van de Vuurst, Paige; Qiao, Huijie; Soler-Tovar, Diego; Escobar, Luis E. (Wiley, 2023-10)
    Bat-borne pathogens are a threat to global health and in recent history have had major impacts on human morbidity and mortality. Examples include diseases such as rabies, Nipah virus encephalitis, and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Climate change may exacerbate the emergence of bat-borne pathogens by affecting the ecology of bats in tropical ecosystems. Here, we report the impacts of climate change on the distributional ecology of the common vampire bat Desmodus rotundus across the last century. Our retrospective analysis revealed a positive relationship between changes in climate and the northern expansion of the distribution of D. rotundus in North America. Furthermore, we also found a reduction in the standard deviation of temperatures at D. rotundus capture locations during the last century, expressed as more consistent, less-seasonal climate in recent years. These results elucidate an association between D. rotundus range expansion and a continental-level rise in rabies virus spillover transmission from D. rotundus to cattle in the last 50 years of the 120-year study period. This correlative study, based on field observations, offers empirical evidence supporting previous statistical and mathematical simulation-based studies reporting a likely increase of bat-borne diseases in response to climate change. We conclude that the D. rotundus rabies system exemplifies the consequences of climate change augmentation at the wildlife–livestock–human interface, demonstrating how global change acts upon these complex and interconnected systems to drive increased disease emergence.
  • The role of Culex territans mosquitoes in the transmission of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis to amphibian hosts
    Reinhold, Joanna M.; Halbert, Ella; Roark, Megan; Smith, Sierra N.; Stroh, Katherine M.; Siler, Cameron D.; McLeod, David S.; Lahondère, Chloé (2023-11-16)
    Background Mosquitoes are the deadliest organisms in the world, killing an estimated 750,000 people per year due to the pathogens they can transmit. Mosquitoes also pose a major threat to other vertebrate animals. Culex territans is a mosquito species found in temperate zones worldwide that feeds almost exclusively on amphibians and can transmit parasites; however, little is known about its ability to transmit other pathogens, including fungi. Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) is a topical pathogenic fungus that spreads through contact. With amphibian populations around the world experiencing mass die-offs and extinctions due to this pathogen, it is critical to study all potential modes of transmission. Because Cx. territans mosquitoes are in contact with their hosts for long periods of time while blood-feeding, we hypothesize that they can transmit and pick up Bd. Methods In this study, we first assessed Cx. territans ability to transfer the fungus from an infected surface to a clean one under laboratory conditions. We also conducted a surveillance study of Bd infections in frogs and mosquitoes in the field (Mountain Lake Biological station, VA, USA). In parallel, we determined Cx. territans host preference via blood meal analysis of field caught mosquitoes. Results We found that this mosquito species can carry the fungus to an uninfected surface, implying that they may have the ability to transmit Bd to their amphibian hosts. We also found that Cx. territans feed primarily on green frogs (Rana clamitans) and bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana) and that the prevalence of Bd within the frog population at our field site varied between years. Conclusions This study provides critical insights into understanding the role of amphibian-biting mosquitoes in transmitting pathogens, which can be applied to disease ecology of susceptible amphibian populations worldwide.
  • Assessing Ecosystem State Space Models: Identifiability and Estimation
    Smith, John W.; Johnson, Leah R.; Thomas, R. Quinn (Springer, 2023-03)
    Hierarchical probability models are being used more often than non-hierarchical deterministic process models in environmental prediction and forecasting, and Bayesian approaches to fitting such models are becoming increasingly popular. In particular, models describing ecosystem dynamics with multiple states that are autoregressive at each step in time can be treated as statistical state space models (SSMs). In this paper, we examine this subset of ecosystem models, embed a process-based ecosystem model into an SSM, and give closed form Gibbs sampling updates for latent states and process precision parameters when process and observation errors are normally distributed. Here, we use simulated data from an example model (DALECev) and study the effects changing the temporal resolution of observations on the states (observation data gaps), the temporal resolution of the state process (model time step), and the level of aggregation of observations on fluxes (measurements of transfer rates on the state process). We show that parameter estimates become unreliable as temporal gaps between observed state data increase. To improve parameter estimates, we introduce a method of tuning the time resolution of the latent states while still using higher-frequency driver information and show that this helps to improve estimates. Further, we show that data cloning is a suitable method for assessing parameter identifiability in this class of models. Overall, our study helps inform the application of state space models to ecological forecasting applications where (1) data are not available for all states and transfers at the operational time step for the ecosystem model and (2) process uncertainty estimation is desired.
  • Tonian carbonaceous compressions indicate that Horodyskia is one of the oldest multicellular and coenocytic macro-organisms
    Li, Guangjin; Chen, Lei; Pang, Ke; Tang, Qing; Wu, Chengxi; Yuan, Xunlai; Zhou, Chuanming; Xiao, Shuhai (Nature Portfolio, 2023-04)
    Macrofossils with unambiguous biogenic origin and predating the one-billion-year-old multicellular fossils Bangiomorpha and Proterocladus interpreted as crown-group eukaryotes are quite rare. Horodyskia is one of these few macrofossils, and it extends from the early Mesoproterozoic Era to the terminal Ediacaran Period. The biological interpretation of this enigmatic fossil, however, has been a matter of controversy since its discovery in 1982, largely because there was no evidence for the preservation of organic walls. Here we report new carbonaceous compressions of Horodyskia from the Tonian successions (similar to 950-720 Ma) in North China. The macrofossils herein with bona fide organic walls reinforce the biogenicity of Horodyskia. Aided by the new material, we reconstruct Horodyskia as a colonial organism composed of a chain of organic-walled vesicles that likely represent multinucleated (coenocytic) cells of early eukaryotes. Two species of Horodyskia are differentiated on the basis of vesicle sizes, and their co-existence in the Tonian assemblage provides a link between the Mesoproterozoic (H. moniliformis) and the Ediacaran (H. minor) species. Our study thus provides evidence that eukaryotes have acquired macroscopic size through the combination of coenocytism and colonial multicellularity at least similar to 1.48 Ga, and highlights an exceptionally long range and morphological stasis of this Proterozoic macrofossils.
  • La Crosse Virus Circulation in Virginia, Assessed via Serosurveillance in Wildlife Species
    Faw, Lindsey R.; Riley, Jennifer; Eastwood, Gillian (MDPI, 2023-06-30)
    Mosquito-borne La Crosse virus (LACV; family: Peribunyaviridae) is the leading cause of pediatric arboviral encephalitis in the United States, with clinical cases generally centered in the Midwest and Appalachian regions. Incidence of LACV cases in Appalachian states has increased, such that the region currently represents the majority of reported LACV cases in the USA. The amount of reported LACV cases from Virginia, however, is minimal compared to neighboring states such as North Carolina, West Virginia, and Tennessee, and non-Appalachian regions of Virginia are understudied. Here we examine the hypothesis that LACV is circulating widely in Virginia, despite a low clinical case report rate, and that the virus is circulating in areas not associated with LACV disease. In this study, we screened local mammalian wildlife in northwestern counties of Virginia using passive surveillance via patients submitted to wildlife rehabilitation centers. Blood sera (527 samples; 9 species, 8 genera) collected between October 2019 and December 2022 were screened for neutralizing antibodies against LACV, indicating prior exposure to the virus. We found an overall LACV seroprevalence of 1.90% among all wild mammals examined and reveal evidence of LACV exposure in several wild species not generally associated with LACV, including eastern cottontails and red foxes, along with established reservoirs, eastern gray squirrels, although there was no serological evidence in chipmunks. These data indicate the circulation of LACV in Virginia outside of Appalachian counties, however, at a lower rate than reported for endemic areas within the state and in other states.
  • IGC Graduate Research Symposium, April 21, 2023
    (Virginia Tech, 2023-04-21)
    A detailed agenda and abstracts from the graduate research symposium held in the Moss Arts Center on April 21, 2023.
  • IGC Graduate Research Symposium Agenda 2022
    (Virginia Tech, 2022-04-22)
    A detailed agenda and abstracts for the graduate research symposium held in the Graduate Life Center Multipurpose Room on April 22, 2022.
  • Climate change and infectious disease: a review of evidence and research trends
    Van de Vuurst, Paige; Escobar, Luis E. (2023-05-16)
    Background Climate change presents an imminent threat to almost all biological systems across the globe. In recent years there have been a series of studies showing how changes in climate can impact infectious disease transmission. Many of these publications focus on simulations based on in silico data, shadowing empirical research based on field and laboratory data. A synthesis work of empirical climate change and infectious disease research is still lacking. Methods We conducted a systemic review of research from 2015 to 2020 period on climate change and infectious diseases to identify major trends and current gaps of research. Literature was sourced from Web of Science and PubMed literary repositories using a key word search, and was reviewed using a delineated inclusion criteria by a team of reviewers. Results Our review revealed that both taxonomic and geographic biases are present in climate and infectious disease research, specifically with regard to types of disease transmission and localities studied. Empirical investigations on vector-borne diseases associated with mosquitoes comprised the majority of research on the climate change and infectious disease literature. Furthermore, demographic trends in the institutions and individuals published revealed research bias towards research conducted across temperate, high-income countries. We also identified key trends in funding sources for most resent literature and a discrepancy in the gender identities of publishing authors which may reflect current systemic inequities in the scientific field. Conclusions Future research lines on climate change and infectious diseases should considered diseases of direct transmission (non-vector-borne) and more research effort in the tropics. Inclusion of local research in low- and middle-income countries was generally neglected. Research on climate change and infectious disease has failed to be socially inclusive, geographically balanced, and broad in terms of the disease systems studied, limiting our capacities to better understand the actual effects of climate change on health.
  • Soap application alters mosquito-host interactions
    VanderGiessen, Morgen; Tallon, Anaïs K.; Damico, Bryn; Lahondère, Chloé; Vinauger, Clément (Cell Press, 2023-05)
    To find nutrients, mosquitoes use volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted by plants and animal hosts. These resources overlap in their chemical composition, and an important layer of information resides in VOCs’ relative abundance in the headspace of each resource. In addition, a large majority of the human species regularly uses personal care products such as soaps and perfumes, which add plant-related VOCs to their olfactory signature. Using headspace sampling and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, we quantified how human odor is modified by soap application. We showed that soaps alter mosquito host selection, with some soaps increasing the attractiveness of the host and some soaps reducing it. Analytical methods revealed the main chemicals associated with these changes. These results provide proof-of-concept that data on host-soap valences can be reverse-engineered to produce chemical blends for artificial baits or mosquito repellents, and evince the impact of personal care products on host selection processes.
  • Phylogenetic characterization of Orthobunyaviruses isolated from Trinidad shows evidence of natural reassortment
    Foster, Jerome E.; Lopez, Krisangel; Eastwood, Gillian; Guzman, Hilda; Carrington, Christine V. F.; Tesh, Robert B.; Auguste, Albert J. (Springer, 2023-02)
    The genus Orthobunyavirus is a diverse group of viruses in the family Peribunyaviridae, recently classified into 20 serogroups, and 103 virus species. Although most viruses within these serogroups are phylogenetically distinct, the absence of complete genome sequences has left several viruses incompletely characterized. Here we report the complete genome sequences for 11 orthobunyaviruses isolated from Trinidad, French Guiana, Guatemala, and Panama that were serologically classified into six serogroups and 10 species. Phylogenetic analyses of these 11 newly derived sequences indicate that viruses belonging to the Patois, Capim, Guama, and Group C serocomplexes all have a close genetic origin. We show that three of the 11 orthobunyaviruses characterized (belonging to the Group C and Bunyamwera serogroups) have evidence of histories of natural reassortment through the M genome segment. Our data also suggests that two distinct lineages of Group C viruses concurrently circulate in Trinidad and are transmitted by the same mosquito vectors. This study also highlights the importance of complementing serological identification with nucleotide sequencing when characterizing orthobunyaviruses.
  • Nitrate limitation in early Neoproterozoic oceans delayed the ecological rise of eukaryotes
    Kang, Junyao; Gill, Benjamin C.; Reid, Rachel E. B.; Zhang, Feifei; Xiao, Shuhai (American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2023-03-23)
    The early Neoproterozoic Era witnessed the initial ecological rise of eukaryotes at ca. 800 Ma. To assess whether nitrate availability played an important role in this evolutionary event, we measured nitrogen isotope compositions (δ15N) of marine carbonates from the early Tonian (ca. 1000 Ma to ca. 800 Ma) Huaibei Group in North China. The data reported here fill a critical gap in the δ15N record and indicate nitrate limitation in early Neoproterozoic oceans. A compilation of Proterozoic sedimentary δ15N data reveals a stepwise increase in δ15N values at ~800 Ma. Box model simulations indicate that this stepwise increase likely represents a ~50% increase in marine nitrate availability. Limited nitrate availability in early Neoproterozoic oceans may have delayed the ecological rise of eukaryotes until ~800 Ma when increased nitrate supply, together with other environmental and ecological factors, may have contributed to the transition from prokaryote-dominant to eukaryote-dominant marine ecosystems.
  • Revealing the complexity of vampire bat rabies “spillover transmission”
    Escobar, Luis E.; Velasco-Villa, Andres; Satheshkumar, Panayampalli S.; Nakazawa, Yoshinori; Van de Vuurst, Paige (2023-02-13)
    Background The term virus ‘spillover’ embodies a highly complex phenomenon and is often used to refer to viral transmission from a primary reservoir host to a new, naïve yet susceptible and permissive host species. Spillover transmission can result in a virus becoming pathogenic, causing disease and death to the new host if successful infection and transmission takes place. Main text The scientific literature across diverse disciplines has used the terms virus spillover, spillover transmission, cross-species transmission, and host shift almost indistinctly to imply the complex process of establishment of a virus from an original host (source/donor) to a naïve host (recipient), which have close or distant taxonomic or evolutionary ties. Spillover transmission may result in unsuccessful onward transmission, if the virus dies off before propagation. Alternatively, successful viral establishment in the new host can occur if subsequent secondary transmission among individuals of the same novel species and among other sympatric susceptible species occurred. As such, virus spillover transmission is a common yet highly complex phenomenon that encompasses multiple subtle stages that can be deconstructed to be studied separately to better understand the drivers of disease emergence. Rabies virus (RABV) is a well-documented viral pathogen which still inflicts heavy impact on humans, companion animals, wildlife, and livestock throughout Latin America due substantial spatial temporal and ecological—natural and expansional—overlap with several virus reservoir hosts. Thereby, the rabies disease system represents a robust avenue through which the drivers and uncertainties surrounding spillover transmission can be unravel at its different subtle stages to better understand how they may be affected by coarse, medium, and fine scale variables. Conclusions The continued study of viral spillover transmission necessitates the elucidation of its complexities to better assess the cross-scale impacts of ecological forces linked to the propensity of spillover success. Improving capacities to reconstruct and predict spillover transmission would prevent public health impacts on those most at risk populations across the globe.
  • Evaluation of an open forecasting challenge to assess skill of West Nile virus neuroinvasive disease prediction
    Holcomb, Karen M.; Mathis, Sarabeth; Staples, J. Erin; Fischer, Marc; Barker, Christopher M.; Beard, Charles B.; Nett, Randall J.; Keyel, Alexander C.; Marcantonio, Matteo; Childs, Marissa L.; Gorris, Morgan E.; Rochlin, Ilia; Hamins-Puértolas, Marco; Ray, Evan L.; Uelmen, Johnny A.; DeFelice, Nicholas; Freedman, Andrew S.; Hollingsworth, Brandon D.; Das, Praachi; Osthus, Dave; Humphreys, John M.; Nova, Nicole; Mordecai, Erin A.; Cohnstaedt, Lee W.; Kirk, Devin; Kramer, Laura D.; Harris, Mallory J.; Kain, Morgan P.; Reed, Emily M. X.; Johansson, Michael A. (2023-01-12)
    Background West Nile virus (WNV) is the leading cause of mosquito-borne illness in the continental USA. WNV occurrence has high spatiotemporal variation, and current approaches to targeted control of the virus are limited, making forecasting a public health priority. However, little research has been done to compare strengths and weaknesses of WNV disease forecasting approaches on the national scale. We used forecasts submitted to the 2020 WNV Forecasting Challenge, an open challenge organized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to assess the status of WNV neuroinvasive disease (WNND) prediction and identify avenues for improvement. Methods We performed a multi-model comparative assessment of probabilistic forecasts submitted by 15 teams for annual WNND cases in US counties for 2020 and assessed forecast accuracy, calibration, and discriminatory power. In the evaluation, we included forecasts produced by comparison models of varying complexity as benchmarks of forecast performance. We also used regression analysis to identify modeling approaches and contextual factors that were associated with forecast skill. Results Simple models based on historical WNND cases generally scored better than more complex models and combined higher discriminatory power with better calibration of uncertainty. Forecast skill improved across updated forecast submissions submitted during the 2020 season. Among models using additional data, inclusion of climate or human demographic data was associated with higher skill, while inclusion of mosquito or land use data was associated with lower skill. We also identified population size, extreme minimum winter temperature, and interannual variation in WNND cases as county-level characteristics associated with variation in forecast skill. Conclusions Historical WNND cases were strong predictors of future cases with minimal increase in skill achieved by models that included other factors. Although opportunities might exist to specifically improve predictions for areas with large populations and low or high winter temperatures, areas with high case-count variability are intrinsically more difficult to predict. Also, the prediction of outbreaks, which are outliers relative to typical case numbers, remains difficult. Further improvements to prediction could be obtained with improved calibration of forecast uncertainty and access to real-time data streams (e.g. current weather and preliminary human cases).
  • Thermal biology of invasive Aedes mosquitoes in the context of climate change
    Lahondère, Chloé; Bonizzoni, Mariangela (Elsevier, 2022-06)
    The increasing incidence of arboviral diseases in tropical endemic areas and their emergence in new temperate countries is one of the most important challenges that Public Health agencies are currently facing. Because mosquitoes are poikilotherms, shifts in temperature influence physiological functions besides egg viability. These traits impact not only vector density, but also their interaction with their hosts and arboviruses. As such the relationship among mosquitoes, arboviral diseases and temperature is complex. Here, we summarize current knowledge on the thermal biology of Aedes invasive mosquitoes, highlighting differences among species. We also emphasize the need to expand knowledge on the variability in thermal sensitivity across populations within a species, especially in light of climate change that encompasses increase not only in mean environmental temperature but also in the frequency of hot and cold snaps. Finally, we suggest a novel experimental approach to investigate the molecular architecture of thermal adaptation in mosquitoes.
  • Drugs and Biodiversity Loss: Narcotraffic-Linked Landscape Change in Guatemala
    Winter, Steven N.; Eastwood, Gillian; Barrios-Izás, Manuel A. (IntechOpen, 2022-10-13)
    Characteristic of the Anthropocene, human impacts have resulted in worldwide losses in forested land cover, which can directly and indirectly drive biodiversity loss. The global illicit drug trade is one source of deforestation directly implicated with habitat loss in Central America, typically for drug trafficking and livestock production for money laundering. Given reports of deforestation in Central America linked to narcotraffic, we explored vegetation changes within Guatemala’s highly biodiverse Maya Biosphere Reserve by examining trends suggestive of deforestation in a protected area. As such, we collected satellite-derived data in the form of enhanced vegetation index (EVI), as well as history of burned areas, published human-“footprint” data, official population density, and artificial light activity in Laguna del Tigre National Park from 2002 to 2020 for descriptive analysis. We found consistent reductions in EVI and trends of anomalous losses of vegetation despite a baseline accounting for variation within the park. Analyses revealed weak correlations (R2 ≤ 0.26) between EVI losses and official sources of anthropogenic data, which may be attributable to the data’s limited spatial and temporal resolution. Alarmingly, simple analyses identified vegetation losses within a protected area, thus emphasizing the need for additional monitoring and science-based, but interdisciplinary policies to protect this biodiversity hotspot.
  • Warm Blood Meal Increases Digestion Rate and Milk Protein Production to Maximize Reproductive Output for the Tsetse Fly, Glossina morsitans
    Benoit, Joshua B.; Lahondère, Chloé; Attardo, Geoffrey M.; Michalkova, Veronika; Oyen, Kennan; Xiao, Yanyu; Aksoy, Serap (MDPI, 2022-10-31)
    The ingestion of blood represents a significant burden that immediately increases water, oxidative, and thermal stress, but provides a significant nutrient source to generate resources necessary for the development of progeny. Thermal stress has been assumed to solely be a negative byproduct that has to be alleviated to prevent stress. Here, we examined if the short thermal bouts incurred during a warm blood meal are beneficial to reproduction. To do so, we examined the duration of pregnancy and milk gland protein expression in the tsetse fly, Glossina morsitans, that consumed a warm or cool blood meal. We noted that an optimal temperature for blood ingestion yielded a reduction in the duration of pregnancy. This decline in the duration of pregnancy is due to increased rate of blood digestion when consuming warm blood. This increased digestion likely provided more energy that leads to increased expression of transcript for milk-associated proteins. The shorter duration of pregnancy is predicted to yield an increase in population growth compared to those that consume cool or above host temperatures. These studies provide evidence that consumption of a warm blood meal is likely beneficial for specific aspects of vector biology.
  • First Evidence of Powassan Virus (Flaviviridae) in Ixodes scapularis in Appalachian Virginia, USA
    Cumbie, Alexandra N.; Whitlow, Amanda M.; Eastwood, Gillian (American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 2022-03-01)
    Here we report the first detection and confirmation of Powassan virus (POWV) (family: Flaviridae) in Ixodes scapularis ticks collected from Appalachian Virginia. Ixodes scapularis ticks were collected from vegetation across field sites in eight counties of western Virginia from June 2019 to April 2021. From these collections, one nymph and one adult male I. scapularis were determined to be positive for POWV using real-time RT-PCR and Sanger sequencing. Both positive ticks were collected from Floyd county, VA, at residential sites; the nymph in June 2020 and the adult male in April 2021. The presence of POWV in Virginia in its natural tick vector is crucial knowledge in beginning to understand the movement and transmission of this pathogen into new geographical areas and the risk it poses to medical and veterinary health.
  • Bankfull shear velocity predicts embeddedness and silt cover in gravel streambeds
    Czuba, Jonathan A.; Hirschler, Mallory; Pratt, Elizabeth A.; Villamagna, Amy; Angermeier, Paul L. (Wiley, 2022-01)
    Excess fine sediment (<2 mm) deposition on gravel streambeds can degrade habitat quality for stream biota. Two measures of fine sediment deposition include embeddedness and silt cover (<62.5 mu m). Embeddedness measures fine sediment in interstitial pore spaces, whereas silt cover, primarily deposited during low flows, measures fine sediment draped on the streambed's surface. Here, we demonstrate that a baseline level of embeddedness and a maximum value of silt cover can be predicted from bankfull shear velocity, which can be estimated from river channel and streamflow characteristics, independently of knowing the sediment supply. We derive an equation for bankfull shear velocity that only requires knowing bankfull flow, channel width, and channel slope, which can be readily obtained in the United States from freely available, remotely sensed data. We apply this methodology to data collected at 30 sites in the Piedmont region of Virginia and North Carolina. This work is an important step in developing statistical models of stream ecosystems in which geophysical variables can predict embeddedness and silt cover, which commonly limit biotic assemblages.
  • Editorial: Disease Ecology and Biogeography
    Escobar, Luis E.; Morand, Serge (Frontiers, 2021-10-29)
  • Horsenettle (Solanum carolinense) fruit bacterial communities are not variable across fine spatial scales
    Heminger, Ariel R.; Belden, Lisa K.; Barney, Jacob N.; Badgley, Brian D.; Haak, David C. (PeerJ, 2021-11-08)
    Fruit house microbial communities that are unique from the rest of the plant. While symbiotic microbial communities complete important functions for their hosts, the fruit microbiome is often understudied compared to other plant organs. Fruits are reproductive tissues that house, protect, and facilitate the dispersal of seeds, and thus they are directly tied to plant fitness. Fruit microbial communities may, therefore, also impact plant fitness. In this study, we assessed how bacterial communities associated with fruit of Solanum carolinense, a native herbaceous perennial weed, vary at fine spatial scales (<0.5 km). A majority of the studies conducted on plant microbial communities have been done at large spatial scales and have observed microbial community variation across these large spatial scales. However, both the environment and pollinators play a role in shaping plant microbial communities and likely have impacts on the plant microbiome at fine scales. We collected fruit samples from eight sampling locations, ranging from 2 to 450 m apart, and assessed the fruit bacterial communities using 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. Overall, we found no differences in observed richness or microbial community composition among sampling locations. Bacterial community structure of fruits collected near one another were not more different than those that were farther apart at the scales we examined. These fine spatial scales are important to obligate out-crossing plant species such as S. carolinense because they are ecologically relevant to pollinators. Thus, our results could imply that pollinators serve to homogenize fruit bacterial communities across these smaller scales.