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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 61:75-83 (2004)  -  doi:10.3354/dao061075

Transmission of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis within and between amphibian life stages

Lara J. Rachowicz*, Vance T. Vredenburg

Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720-3140, USA

ABSTRACT: Chytridiomycosis is an emerging infectious disease caused by the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, which has been implicated in amphibian declines worldwide. The mountain yellow-legged frog Rana muscosa is a declining amphibian species that can be infected by B. dendrobatidis; however, transmission between conspecifics has not been documented. Here, we present experimental evidence that R. muscosa tadpoles can be infected by fungal zoospores and that they can transmit infection to each other and to postmetamorphic animals. We compared several techniques for detecting B. dendrobatidis transmission and found that histology with serial sectioning was able to detect infection before cytology or visual inspections. We also show that R. muscosa tadpoles appear healthy with B. dendrobatidis infection, while postmetamorphic animals experience mortality. In addition, we provide guidelines for visually detecting B. dendrobatidis in R. muscosa tadpoles, which may be useful in other affected species. Field surveys of infected and uninfected populations verify this identification technique.

KEY WORDS: Amphibian decline · Chytridiomycosis · Emerging infectious disease · Rana muscosa · Tadpole

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