Matching Items (5)

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Protecting amphibians from a deadly Chytrid Fungus using a novel technology

Description

Infectious disease in wild animals has historically been a challenge that is difficult to overcome, primarily because isolating a disease outbreak to prevent further transmission in these types of populations

Infectious disease in wild animals has historically been a challenge that is difficult to overcome, primarily because isolating a disease outbreak to prevent further transmission in these types of populations is nearly impossible. Wild animals are free to roam, and humans often have limited means of tracking infection in populations. Vaccines and treatments can be formulated but are often somewhat impractical for wild populations because it is not feasible to vaccinate or treat every member in a susceptible community. One such pathogen, Batrochochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) is infecting amphibian populations around the world to the point where many species are already extinct. Even though finding an effective preventative for the fungal pathogen may not mean that I am able to reach every member in a population, it may mean the difference between extinction and eventual release back into the wild for threatened populations.
In this study I hoped to create an attenuated version of Batrochochytrium dendrobatidis, by using a novel laser technology: SEPHODIS. This laser technology disrupts hydrogen bonds between proteins in the lumen of the cell while simultaneously preserving the membrane and associated proteins on the outside of the cell. This process ultimately affects the pathogenicity of the target but leaves identity markers intact so that the host immune system may recognize the pathogen and create antibodies against it. The laser was ultimately effective at killing Bd fungal cells, and I did observe a significant change in the appearance of the cells. However, samples obtained after exposure to the laser were contaminated and more research is needed to determine if SEPHODIS could be a feasible method for vaccine production.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2019-05

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Phenotypic Plasticity and Early Life Cycle Development of the Chytrid Fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis

Description

The amphibian chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) has captured human attention because it is a pathogen that has contributed to global amphibian declines. Despite increased research, much is still unknown

The amphibian chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) has captured human attention because it is a pathogen that has contributed to global amphibian declines. Despite increased research, much is still unknown about how it develops. For example, the fact that Bd exhibits phenotypic plasticity during development was only recently identified. In this thesis, the causes of phenotypic plasticity in Bd are tested by exposing the fungus to different substrates, including powdered frog skin and keratin, which seems to play an important role in the fungus's colonization of amphibian epidermis. A novel swelling structure emerging from Bd germlings developed when exposed to keratin and frog skin. This swelling has not been observed in Bd grown in laboratory cultures before, and it is possible that it is analogous to the germ tube Bd develops in vivo. Growth of the swelling suggests that keratin plays a role in the phenotypic plasticity expressed by Bd.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2016-05

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A Tale of Two Canyons: Abiotic factors and the distribution of a pathogenic fungus in southeastern Arizona

Description

Chytridiomycosis, an infectious disease caused by the amphibian chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), has played a significant role in global amphibian declines. Researchers studying Bd aim to gain a better

Chytridiomycosis, an infectious disease caused by the amphibian chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), has played a significant role in global amphibian declines. Researchers studying Bd aim to gain a better understanding of how this pathogen survives in unique microhabitats to promote persistence of amphibians in their natural habitat. The Arizona Game and Fish Department has worked for the last 12 years to recover populations of Chiricahua Leopard Frogs to ensure the species survives in the Huachuca Mountains in southeastern Arizona. During this time, the department tested for Bd throughout their release sites. As a result of large differences in prevalence noted in prior sampling for Bd in Miller and Ramsey canyons, I investigated abiotic factors that could explain these differences. I analyzed water samples from two canyons in the Huachuca Mountains and used nutrient analysis and filter extraction to test for differences in abiotic factors between these two sites that could affect Bd transmission. Results show that Ramsey Canyon was a positive site for Bd, while Miller Canyon remained negative. Results from water temperature estimates as well as a test for 30 elements revealed possible reasons for differences in Bd transmission between the two canyons.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2017-05

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Ecology of chytridiomycosis in boreal chorus frogs (Pseudacris maculata)

Description

Infectious diseases have emerged as a significant threat to wildlife. Environmental change is often implicated as an underlying factor driving this emergence. With this recent rise in disease emergence and

Infectious diseases have emerged as a significant threat to wildlife. Environmental change is often implicated as an underlying factor driving this emergence. With this recent rise in disease emergence and the acceleration of environmental change, it is important to identify the environmental factors that alter host-pathogen dynamics and their underlying mechanisms. The emerging pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) is a clear example of the negative effects infectious diseases can have on wildlife. Bd is linked to global declines in amphibian diversity and abundance. However, there is considerable variation in population-level responses to Bd, with some hosts experiencing marked declines while others persist. Environmental factors may play a role in this variation. This research used populations of pond-breeding chorus frogs (Pseudacris maculata) in Arizona to test if three rapidly changing environmental factors nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and temperature influence the presence, prevalence, and severity of Bd infections. I evaluated the reliability of a new technique for detecting Bd in water samples and combined this technique with animal sampling to monitor Bd in wild chorus frogs. Monitoring from 20 frog populations found high Bd presence and prevalence during breeding. A laboratory experiment found 85% adult mortality as a result of Bd infection; however, estimated chorus frog densities in wild populations increased significantly over two years of sampling despite high Bd prevalence. Presence, prevalence, and severity of Bd infections were not correlated with aqueous concentrations of N or P. There was, however, support for an annual temperature-induced reduction in Bd prevalence in newly metamorphosed larvae. A simple mathematical model suggests that this annual temperature-induced reduction of Bd infections in larvae in combination with rapid host maturation may help chorus frog populations persist despite high adult mortality. These results demonstrate that Bd can persist across a wide range of environmental conditions, providing little support for the influence of N and P on Bd dynamics, and show that water temperature may play an important role in altering Bd dynamics, enabling chorus frogs to persist with this pathogen. These findings demonstrate the importance of environmental context and host life history for the outcome of host-pathogen interactions.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2012

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Chytridiomycosis in the direct-developing frogs of Puerto Rico

Description

Epidemiological theory normally does not predict host extinction from infectious disease because of a host density threshold below which pathogens cannot persist. However, host extinction can occur when a biotic

Epidemiological theory normally does not predict host extinction from infectious disease because of a host density threshold below which pathogens cannot persist. However, host extinction can occur when a biotic or abiotic pathogen reservoir allows for density-independent transmission. Amphibians are facing global population decline and extinction from the emerging infectious disease chytridiomycosis, caused by the fungus Batrachochytrium dentrobatidis (Bd). I use the model species Eleutherodactylus coqui to assess the impact of Bd on terrestrial direct-developing frog species, a common life history in the tropics. I tested the importance of two key factors that might influence this impact and then used laboratory experiments and published field data to model population-level impacts of Bd on E. coqui. First, I assessed the ontogenetic susceptibility of E. coqui by exposing juvenile and adult frogs to the same pathogen strain and dose. Juveniles exposed to Bd had significantly lower survival rates compared with control juveniles, while adult frogs often cleared infection. Second, I conducted experiments to determine whether E. coqui can become infected with Bd indirectly from contact with zoospores shed onto vegetation by an infected frog and from direct exposure to an infected frog. Both types of transmission were observed, making this the first demonstration that amphibians can become infected indirectly in non-aquatic habitats. Third, I tested the hypothesis that artificially-maintained cultures of Bd attenuate in pathogenicity, an effect known for other fungal pathogens. Comparing two cultures of the same Bd strain with different passage histories revealed reduced zoospore production and disease-induced mortality rates for a susceptible frog species (Atelopus zeteki) but not for the less-susceptible E. coqui. Finally, I used a mathematical model to project the population-level impacts of chytridiomycosis on E. coqui. Model analysis showed that indirect transmission, combined with either a high rate of zoospore production or low rate of zoospore mortality, is required for Bd to drive E. coqui populations below an extinction threshold. High rates of transmission plus frequent re-infection could lead to poor recruitment of infected juveniles and population decline. My research adds further insight into how emerging infectious disease is contributing to the loss of amphibian biodiversity.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2013