Chytridiomycosis, Amphibian Extinctions, and Lessons for the Prevention of Future Panzootics

Centre for Innovative Conservation Strategies, School of Environment, Griffith University, Gold Coast, QLD, Australia.
EcoHealth (Impact Factor: 2.45). 06/2009; 6(1):6-10. DOI: 10.1007/s10393-009-0228-y
Source: PubMed


The human-mediated transport of infected amphibians is the most plausible driver for the intercontinental spread of chytridiomycosis, a recently emerged infectious disease responsible for amphibian population declines and extinctions on multiple continents. Chytridiomycosis is now globally ubiquitous, and it cannot be eradicated from affected sites. Its rapid spread both within and between continents provides a valuable lesson on preventing future panzootics and subsequent erosion of biodiversity, not only of amphibians, but of a wide array of taxa: the continued inter-continental trade and transport of animals will inevitably lead to the spread of novel pathogens, followed by numerous extinctions. Herein, we define and discuss three levels of amphibian disease management: (1) post-exposure prophylactic measures that are curative in nature and applicable only in a small number of situations; (2) pre-exposure prophylactic measures that reduce disease threat in the short-term; and (3) preventive measures that remove the threat altogether. Preventive measures include a virtually complete ban on all unnecessary long-distance trade and transport of amphibians, and are the only method of protecting amphibians from disease-induced declines and extinctions over the long-term. Legislation to prevent the emergence of new diseases is urgently required to protect global amphibian biodiversity.

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Available from: Jean-Marc Hero
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    • "Bd is a non-hyphal zoosporic fungus which causes mortalities on every continent except Antarctica ( and is thought to have caused multiple species extinctions [6]. Ranaviruses are large double-stranded DNA viruses, capable of crossing poikilothermic class boundaries, and implicated in mass die-off events and population declines [2,5,7]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Amphibians are experiencing global declines and extinctions, with infectious diseases representing a major factor. In this study we examined the transcriptional response of metamorphic hosts (common frog, Rana temporaria) to the two most important amphibian pathogens: Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) and Ranavirus. We found strong up-regulation of a gene involved in the adaptive immune response (AP4S1) at four days post-exposure to both pathogens. We detected a significant transcriptional response to Bd, covering the immune response (innate and adaptive immunity, complement activation, and general inflammatory responses), but relatively little transcriptional response to Ranavirus. This may reflect the higher mortality rates found in wild common frogs infected with Ranavirus as opposed to Bd. These data provide a valuable genomic resource for the amphibians, contribute insight into gene expression changes after pathogen exposure, and suggest potential candidate genes for future host-pathogen research.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2015 · PLoS ONE
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    • "There are also several newly discovered pathogens or diseases that have resulted in population declines, and global extinctions of several species. Examples include Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, which causes a cutaneous fungal infection of amphibians and is linked to declines of amphibians globally (Kriger and Hero 2009); recently discovered Pseudogymnoascus (Geomyces) destructans , the etiologic agent of white nose syndrome which has caused precipitous declines of North American bat species (Blehert et al. 2011); and Tasmanian Devil facial tumor disease, an infectious cancer threatening the Tasmanian devil with extinction (McCallum and Jones 2006). Of increasing concern are these novel pathogens that have emerged as they are hard to anticipate, particularly devastating to wildlife populations, challenging to manage, and may result in ecological ripple effects that are difficult to predict. "
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    ABSTRACT: The consequences of wildlife emerging diseases are global and profound with increased burden on the public health system, negative impacts on the global economy, declines and extinctions of wildlife species, and subsequent loss of ecological integrity. Examples of health threats to wildlife include Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, which causes a cutaneous fungal infection of amphibians and is linked to declines of amphibians globally; and the recently discovered Pseudogymnoascus (Geomyces) destructans, the etiologic agent of white nose syndrome which has caused precipitous declines of North American bat species. Of particular concern are the novel pathogens that have emerged as they are particularly devastating and challenging to manage. A big science approach to wildlife health research is needed if we are to make significant and enduring progress in managing these diseases. The advent of new analytical models and bench assays will provide us with the mathematical and molecular tools to identify and anticipate threats to wildlife, and understand the ecology and epidemiology of these diseases. Specifically, new molecular diagnostic techniques have opened up avenues for pathogen discovery, and the application of spatially referenced databases allows for risk assessments that can assist in targeting surveillance. Long-term, systematic collection of data for wildlife health and integration with other datasets is also essential. Multidisciplinary research programs should be expanded to increase our understanding of the drivers of emerging diseases and allow for the development of better disease prevention and management tools, such as vaccines. Finally, we need to create a National Fish and Wildlife Health Network that provides the operational framework (governance, policies, procedures, etc.) by which entities with a stake in wildlife health cooperate and collaborate to achieve optimal outcomes for human, animal, and ecosystem health.
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    • "Bd has been reported from Asia, Australia, Europe, Africa and America [19,22]. However, in Asia there are comparatively recent reports [23-30] and severe population declines have not been reported from the wild. "
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    ABSTRACT: The Western Ghats of India harbors a rich diversity of amphibians with more than 77% species endemic to this region. At least 42% of the endemic species are threatened due to several anthropogenic stressors. However, information on amphibian diseases and their impacts on amphibian populations in this region are scarce. We report the occurrence of Batrachochytridium dendrobatidis (Bd), an epidermal aquatic fungal pathogen that causes chytridiomycosis in amphibians, from the Western Ghats. In the current study we detected the occurrence of a native Asian Bd strain from three endemic and threatened species of anurans, Bombay Night Frog Nyctibatrachus humayuni, Leith's Leaping Frog Indirana leithii and Bombay Bubble Nest Frog Raorchestes bombayensis, for the first time from the northern Western Ghats of India based on diagnostic nested PCR, quantitative PCR, DNA sequencing and histopathology. While, the Bd infected I. leithii and R. bombayensis did not show any external symptoms, N. humayuni showed lesions on the skin, browning of skin and sloughing. Sequencing of Bd 5.8S ribosomal RNA gene, and the ITS1 and ITS2 regions, revealed that the current Bd strain is related to a haplotype endemic to Asia. Our findings confirm the presence of Bd in northern Western Ghats and the affected amphibians may or may not show detectable clinical symptoms. We suggest that the significance of diseases as potential threat to amphibian populations of the Western Ghats needs to be highlighted from the conservation point of view.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2013 · PLoS ONE
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