DAO 112:9-16 (2014)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02792

High susceptibility of the endangered dusky gopher frog to ranavirus

William B. Sutton1,2,*, Matthew J. Gray1, Rebecca H. Hardman1, Rebecca P. Wilkes3, Andrew J. Kouba4, Debra L. Miller1,3

1Center for Wildlife Health, Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA
2Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Tennessee State University, Nashville, TN 37209, USA
3Department of Biomedical and Diagnostic Sciences, University of Tennessee Center of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA
4Memphis Zoo, Conservation and Research Department, Memphis, TN 38112, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Amphibians are one of the most imperiled vertebrate groups, with pathogens playing a role in the decline of some species. Rare species are particularly vulnerable to extinction because populations are often isolated and exist at low abundance. The potential impact of pathogens on rare amphibian species has seldom been investigated. The dusky gopher frog Lithobates sevosus is one of the most endangered amphibian species in North America, with 100-200 individuals remaining in the wild. Our goal was to determine whether adult L. sevosus were susceptible to ranavirus, a pathogen responsible for amphibian die-offs worldwide. We tested the relative susceptibility of adult L. sevosus to ranavirus (103 plaque-forming units) isolated from a morbid bullfrog via 3 routes of exposure: intra-coelomic (IC) injection, oral (OR) inoculation, and water bath (WB) exposure. We observed 100% mortality of adult L. sevosus in the IC and WB treatments after 10 and 19 d, respectively. Ninety-five percent mortality occurred in the OR treatment over the 28 d evaluation period. No mortality was observed in the control treatment after 28 d. Our results indicate that L. sevosus is susceptible to ranavirus, and if adults in the wild are exposed to this pathogen, significant mortality could occur. Additionally, our study demonstrates that some adult amphibian species can be very susceptible to ranavirus, which has been often overlooked in North American studies. We recommend that conservation planners consider testing the susceptibility of rare amphibian species to ranavirus and that the adult age class is included in future challenge experiments.


KEY WORDS: Anuran · Histopathology · Iridovirus · Ranidae


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Cite this article as: Sutton WB, Gray MJ, Hardman RH, Wilkes RP, Kouba AJ, Miller DL (2014) High susceptibility of the endangered dusky gopher frog to ranavirus. Dis Aquat Org 112:9-16. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02792

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