Interaction between temperature and sublethal infection with the amphibian chytrid fungus impacts a susceptible frog species

Lachlan Campbell, Deborah S. Bower, Simon Clulow, Michelle Stockwell, John Clulow, Michael Mahony

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The amphibian chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis is an emerging infectious pathogen present on every continent except Antarctica. It causes the disease chytridiomycosis in a subset of species but does not always result in disease or death for every host. Ambient temperature influences both amphibian metabolism and chytrid pathogenicity, however the interactive effects on host physiology is not well understood. We investigated the sublethal effect of B. dendrobatidis infection on a susceptible host, Litoria aurea to test (1) whether the infection load, metabolic activity, body fat and gonad size differed in L. aurea at either 24 °C or 12 °C ambient temperatures and (2) whether previous Bd infection caused long-term changes to body fat and gonad size. Litoria aurea in 12 °C treatments had higher infection loads of B. dendrobatidis and lower survivorship. Metabolic rate was higher and fat mass was lower in infected individuals and in animals in 24 °C treatments. Male L. aurea previously infected with B. dendrobatidis had smaller testes 5 months-post clearance of infection, an effect likely to translate to fitness costs in wild populations. These experiments demonstrate a physiological cost to sublethal B. dendrobatidis infection, which suggests a reduction in host fitness mediated by temperature in the host’s environment regardless of whether infection leads to mortality.

Original languageEnglish
Article number83
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalScientific Reports
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019
Externally publishedYes

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