DAO 77:105-112 (2007)  -  doi:10.3354/dao01850

Environmental detection of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in a temperate climate

Susan F. Walker1,2,*, Mario Baldi Salas2,5, Daniel Jenkins1, Trenton W. J. Garner2, Andrew A. Cunningham2, Alex D. Hyatt3, Jaime Bosch4, Matthew C. Fisher1

1Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Imperial College, St Mary’s Campus, Norfolk Place, London W2 1PG, UK
2Institute of Zoology, Regents Park, London NW1 4RY, UK
3CSIRO Livestock Industries, Australian Animal Health Laboratory, 5 Port Arlington Road, Geelong, Victoria 3220, Australia
4Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, CSIC, José Gutiérrez Abascal, 2, 28006 Madrid, Spain
5Present address: Tropical Diseases Research Program, Escuela de Medicina Veterinaria, Universidad Nacional Apartado Postal 304-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica

ABSTRACT: The aetiological agent of amphibian chytridiomycosis Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis is a primary cause of amphibian population declines. Current surveillance is based on the detection of B. dendrobatidis in its host but in vitro work suggests infective stages may survive in the abiotic environment for at least 3 mo. We describe here a surveillance system using filtration and quantitative PCR that can detect B. dendrobatidis in small (<1 l) volumes of water. After assessing the analytical sensitivity of the protocol for both water and sediment samples in the laboratory, we analyzed environmental samples from the Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range in Spain at locations associated with chytrid-related die-offs and at other sites across Spain. B. dendrobatidis was detected in samples from 64% of the ponds in the Sierra de Guadarrama and at 2 sites outside this region, showing that levels of amphibian exposure to B. dendrobatidis are spatially heterogeneous. In experimental microcosms, we detected B. dendrobatidis for up to 12 wk, though we found no evidence for an overall increase in biomass. Our results emphasise the need to further investigate the life cycle of B. dendrobatidis to more completely understand the epidemiology of this emerging pathogen.

KEY WORDS: Chytridiomycosis · Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis · Environmental surveillance · Filtration

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Cite this article as: Walker SF, Baldi Salas M, Jenkins D, Garner TWJ and others (2007) Environmental detection of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in a temperate climate. Dis Aquat Org 77:105-112

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