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Amphibian pathogens at northern latitudes: presence of chytrid fungus and ranavirus in northeastern Canada.

Research paper by Andrée-Michelle AM D'Aoust-Messier, Pierre P Echaubard, Vincent V Billy, David D Lesbarrères

Indexed on: 10 Mar '15Published on: 10 Mar '15Published in: Diseases of aquatic organisms



Abstract

Infections by the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) and members of the genus Ranavirus (Rv) are increasingly reported as significant determinants of amphibian population die-offs. The complexity associated with their transmission and spatial distribution leads to an increase in demand for comprehensive reporting systems and global mapping of their distribution. Here, we document the distribution of these 2 pathogens in a remote northern temperate lowland where environmental sensitivity is high, providing important insight into the pathogens' natural history and infection patterns. Wood frog Lithobates sylvaticus tissues were collected from the James Bay area in northeastern Canada and were screened for the presence of Bd and Rv using conventional and real-time PCR. Both pathogens were present in the study area, which is the northernmost record in eastern North America. Interestingly, different patterns of distribution were observed between the eastern and western coasts of James Bay, suggesting differences in the spatial and transmission dynamics for each pathogen. Anthropogenic introduction may still influence the distribution patterns observed, even at these latitudes. The presence of infections in this remote area also raises further questions on the risk these pathogens pose to northern amphibian communities. We encourage further research in remote locations for a better understanding of these pathogens, their transmission dynamics, and especially their respective impacts on amphibian populations worldwide.