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Molecular toolkit unlocks life cycle of the panzootic amphibian pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis

Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, St Mary's, Imperial College, London W2 1PG, United Kingdom.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Impact Factor: 9.67). 12/2008; 105(45):17209-10. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0809801105
Source: PubMed

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    • "Schloegel et al., 2006). Bd shows a remarkably low host specificity and has now been detected in more than 400 different anuran and salamander species on all continents on which amphibians occur (Fisher, 2008). However , molecular studies strongly indicate that Bd's current geographic distribution is the result of a recent panzootic spread (James et al., 2009). "
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    ABSTRACT: Amphibians at the global scale are dramatically declining and the pathogenic fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) has been suggested to be an important driver in this biodiversity crisis. Increasing evidence points towards the global emergence of Bd being a panzootic caused by pathogen pollution. Africa has been suggested to be the origin of the pathogen but remains one of the least-studied areas. We have conducted the most comprehensive survey on the continent to date focusing on Kenya for investigating taxonomic and environmental components in the distribution of Bd in tropical Africa. Eleven sites along a 770 km transect from the coast up to the border of Uganda were surveyed. Using quantitative PCR, we screened 861 samples from 23 different species in nine genera. The pathogen was confirmed at all studied sites, with an overall prevalence of 31.5%. No dead or symptomatic specimens were found and no declines have been reported in the region so far. Both prevalence and parasite load ranged from the detection limit to some of the highest ever reported. The parasite load showed a significant taxonomic bias and a strong inverse correlation with temperature. Our findings suggest that Bd may be enzootic in the region. We recommend that further research should focus on comparative experimental studies of susceptibility to Bd in African species. Moreover, we stress the need for improved knowledge on the conservation status of the tropical African amphibian fauna to confirm the enzootic nature of widespread Bd infections.
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    ABSTRACT: Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) is a chytrid fungus that causes chytridiomycosis in amphibians. Only named in 1999, Bd is a proximate driver of declines in global amphibian biodiversity. The pathogen infects over 350 species of amphibians and is found on all continents except Antarctica. However, the processes that have led to the global distribution of Bd and the occurrence of chytridiomycosis remain unclear. This review explores the molecular, epidemiological, and ecological evidence that Bd evolved from an endemic ancestral lineage to achieve global prominence via anthropogenically mediated spread. We then consider the major host and pathogen factors that have led to the occurrence of chytridiomycosis in amphibian species, populations, and communities.
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    ABSTRACT: Chytridiomycosis, which is caused by Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, is an emerging infectious disease of amphibians. The disease is one of the main causes of the global decline in amphibians. The aetiological agent is ubiquitous, with worldwide distribution, and affects a large number of amphibian species in several biomes. In the last decade, scientific research has substantially increased knowledge of the aetiological agent and the associated infection. However, important epidemiological aspects of the environment-mediated interactions between the aetiological agent and the host are not yet clear. The objective of the present review is to describe chytridiomycosis with regard to the major features of the aetiological agent, the host and the environment.
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