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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 142:225-237 (2020)  -  DOI:

Locality, time and heterozygosity affect chytrid infection in yellow-bellied toads

Pia Oswald1,2,#, Ariel Rodríguez1,#, Johara Bourke1,3, Norman Wagner4, Nicole de Buhr3, Holger Buschmann5, Maren von Köckritz-Blickwede3, Heike Pröhl1,*

1Institute of Zoology, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, 30559 Hannover, Germany
2Department of Behavioral Ecology, Bielefeld University, 33615 Bielefeld, Germany
3Department of Physiological Chemistry & Research Center for Emerging Infections and Zoonoses, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, 30559 Hannover, Germany
4Department of Biogeography, Trier University, 54296 Trier, Germany
5NABU Lower Saxony, 30167 Hannover, Germany
*Corresponding author:
#These authors contributed equally to this work

ABSTRACT: The chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) infects numerous amphibian species worldwide and is suggested to drive population declines and extinction events. We report a study of Bd infection at the northernmost distribution of the European yellow-bellied toad Bombina variegata. A total of 577 individuals from ponds in 16 study sites were sampled for DNA and Bd throughout the breeding season. Microsatellite genotyping revealed 3 genetic clusters for the host B. variegata with an overall low genetic diversity. One of the clusters displayed a low microsatellite heterozygosity, a high inbreeding coefficient as well as high Bd infection prevalence and intensities. Multi-model estimates identified site, time of sampling, and heterozygosity to be important predictors of an individual’s Bd infection status, and identified a strong effect of site on individual Bd infection intensity. The study site effects are suggestive of localized infection peaks, and the increase of individual Bd infection probabilities towards the end of the sampling period suggests cumulative infection during the breeding season. This study highlights the need for regular monitoring of Bd infection variables at multiple localities and times to gain insights into Bd dynamics. Due to the detected relationship between individual Bd infection status and heterozygosity, conservation measures should focus on the maintenance of high genetic diversity and connectivity within and among amphibian populations.

KEY WORDS: Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis · Bombina variegata · Chytridiomycosis · Genetic diversity · Population structure · PCR · Conservation

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Cite this article as: Oswald P, Rodríguez A, Bourke J, Wagner N and others (2020) Locality, time and heterozygosity affect chytrid infection in yellow-bellied toads. Dis Aquat Org 142:225-237.

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