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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 65:181-186 (2005)  -  doi:10.3354/dao065181

Possible modes of dissemination of the amphibian chytrid Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in the environment

Megan L. Johnson, Richard Speare*

Amphibian Diseases Group, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and Rainforest CRC, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: Amphibian chytridiomycosis caused by Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis has spread at an alarming rate over large distances throughout sensitive frog populations in eastern Australia, Central America and New Zealand. Infected amphibians and contaminated water are implicated in translocation, but other vectors are unknown. Through in vitro studies we show that potential means of translocation may be moist soil and bird feathers. B. dendrobatidis survived for up to 3 mo in sterile, moist river sand with no other nutrients added. B. dendrobatidis attached to and grew on sterile feathers and were able to be transported by feathers to establish new cultures in media, surviving between 1 and 3 h of drying between transfers. If these in vitro results are valid in the natural environment, the findings raise the possibilities that B. dendrobatidis may be translocated by movement of moist river sand and that birds may carry the amphibian chytrid between frog habitats. However, further studies using sand and feathers containing normal microflora are essential.

KEY WORDS: Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis · Chytridiomycosis · Amphibian chytrid · Translocation · Feathers · Soil

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