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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 145:101-109 (2021)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03599

Surveying for Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis and B. salamandrivorans in wild and captive amphibian populations in Estonia and Latvia

Linda Saare1,*,#, Adele Laasmaa2,#, Sten Anslan2, Riinu Rannap1, Leho Tedersoo1,2

1Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences, University of Tartu, Vanemuise 46, 51014 Tartu, Estonia
2Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences, University of Tartu, Ravila 14A, 50411 Tartu, Estonia
*Corresponding author:
#These authors contributed equally to this work

ABSTRACT: The pathogenic chytrid fungi Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) and B. salamandrivorans (Bsal) cause infections that have become primary drivers of amphibian biodiversity loss. While globally widespread, the distribution margins of Bd and Bsal have not been determined, and the presence of these pathogens has probably gone unnoticed in many areas, especially in northern Eurasia. To better understand the presence and distribution of both pathogens in the northern temperate and boreal forest biomes, 243 individuals were sampled from 8 native amphibian species across Estonia. Additionally, 68 amphibians were sampled from captive collections in Estonia and Latvia. Pathogen infection was assessed using metabarcoding of the ITS2 marker. No positive matches for Bsal infection were found. Bd was detected in 13 specimens, 3 of which were sampled at the Riga Zoo (with a prevalence of 5.2%) and 10 in natural environments in Estonia (3.3%). The infected wild individuals belonged to 6 amphibian species and were detected throughout the mainland of Estonia, but not on islands. Prevalence of infection with Bd ranged between 3.1 and 12.5% among native species. In addition, we found molecular evidence for a potentially new sister species to Bd in nature. Although outbreaks of chytridiomycosis have never been observed in Estonia, it cannot be excluded that the dynamics of local amphibian populations are affected by Bd infections. Therefore, further work, including capture-mark-recapture studies and long-term monitoring, are required to clarify the impact of Bd on amphibians in Northern Europe.


KEY WORDS: Bd · Bsal · Batrachochytrium · Chytridiomycosis · Amphibian · Pathogen · Riga Zoo · Estonia


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Cite this article as: Saare L, Laasmaa A, Anslan S, Rannap R, Tedersoo L (2021) Surveying for Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis and B. salamandrivorans in wild and captive amphibian populations in Estonia and Latvia. Dis Aquat Org 145:101-109. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03599

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