From The Cover: Emerging infectious disease and the loss of biodiversity in a Neotropical amphibian community

Department of Zoology, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, 62901-6501, USA.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Impact Factor: 9.67). 03/2006; 103(9):3165-70. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0506889103
Source: PubMed


Pathogens rarely cause extinctions of host species, and there are few examples of a pathogen changing species richness and diversity of an ecological community by causing local extinctions across a wide range of species. We report the link between the rapid appearance of a pathogenic chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in an amphibian community at El Copé, Panama, and subsequent mass mortality and loss of amphibian biodiversity across eight families of frogs and salamanders. We describe an outbreak of chytridiomycosis in Panama and argue that this infectious disease has played an important role in amphibian population declines. The high virulence and large number of potential hosts of this emerging infectious disease threaten global amphibian diversity.

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    • "Retrospective studies have found that chytridiomycosis was likely the cause of many of the " enigmatic " amphibian declines (Cheng et al., 2011; Olson et al., 2013) that occurred before the disease was identified in the late 1990's (Berger et al., 1998; Blaustein, 1994; Pechmann and Wilbur, 1994). Chytridiomycosis, caused by the virulent fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), has now been implicated in mass amphibian die-offs in western North and Central America, often in protected or remote habitats (Lips et al., 2006; Skerratt et al., 2007; Vredenburg et al., 2010), and is associated with declines and possible extinctions in Europe and Australia (Fisher and Walker, 2009; Skerratt et al., 2007). Because chytridiomycosis was already widespread before it was described , retrospective studies utilizing museum collections are needed to fill in the timeline of disease emergence. "
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    ABSTRACT: BIOC, Corrected proof. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2015.08.039
    Biological Conservation 12/2015; 192(C):20-29. DOI:10.1016/j.biocon.2015.08.039 · 3.76 Impact Factor
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    • "There is evidence that Bd has moved across Panamá from west to east ( Lips et al . , 2006 ) . Bd was detected near our western most site in January 2007 and is thought to have arrived there in ∼2006 ( Woodhams et al . , 2008 ) . It most likely arrived in our eastern most site in ∼2011 ( Rebollar et al . , 2014 ) , although the precise dates are not known . We hypothesized that this gradient of arrival time should be correlat"
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    ABSTRACT: Vertebrates, including amphibians, host diverse symbiotic microbes that contribute to host disease resistance. Globally, and especially in montane tropical systems, many amphibian species are threatened by a chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), that causes a lethal skin disease. Bd therefore may be a strong selective agent on the diversity and function of the microbial communities inhabiting amphibian skin. In Panamá, amphibian population declines and the spread of Bd have been tracked. In 2012, we completed a field survey in Panamá to examine frog skin microbiota in the context of Bd infection. We focused on three frog species and collected two skin swabs per frog from a total of 136 frogs across four sites that varied from west to east in the time since Bd arrival. One swab was used to assess bacterial community structure using 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing and to determine Bd infection status, and one was used to assess metabolite diversity, as the bacterial production of anti-fungal metabolites is an important disease resistance function. The skin microbiota of the three Panamanian frog species differed in OTU (operational taxonomic unit, ~bacterial species) community composition and metabolite profiles, although the pattern was less strong for the metabolites. Comparisons between frog skin bacterial communities from Panamá and the US suggest broad similarities at the phylum level, but key differences at lower taxonomic levels. In our field survey in Panamá, across all four sites, only 35 individuals (~26%) were Bd infected. There was no clustering of OTUs or metabolite profiles based on Bd infection status and no clear pattern of west-east changes in OTUs or metabolite profiles across the four sites. Overall, our field survey data suggest that different bacterial communities might be producing broadly similar sets of metabolites across frog hosts and sites. Community structure and function may not be as tightly coupled in these skin symbiont microbial systems as it is in many macro-systems.
    Frontiers in Microbiology 10/2015; 6:1171. DOI:10.3389/fmicb.2015.01171 · 3.99 Impact Factor
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    • "The infectious chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), which causes the disease chytridiomycosis (Berger et al. 1998; Longcore et al. 1999), has been associated with numerous amphibian population extirpations and species extinctions (e.g., Stuart et al. 2004; Lips et al. 2006; Vredenburg et al. 2010). Several experimental studies have shown differences in how host species respond to Bd infection (Blaustein et al. 2005; Garcia et al. 2006; Gahl et al. 2011; Searle et al. 2011; Van Rooij et al. 2012; Gervasi et al. 2013a), and field studies have revealed differences in chytridiomycosis sensitivity within a species across a landscape of environmental gradients (Kriger et al. 2007; Van Sluys & Hero 2009; Savage et al. 2011). "

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