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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 71:141-148 (2006)  -  doi:10.3354/dao071141

Techniques for detecting chytridiomycosis in wild frogs: comparing histology with real-time Taqman PCR

Kerry M. Kriger1,*, Harry B. Hines2, Alex D. Hyatt3, Donna G. Boyle3, Jean-Marc Hero1

1Griffith University, School of Environmental and Applied Sciences, PMB 50 Gold Coast Mail Centre, Queensland 9726, Australia
2Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, PO Box 64, Bellbowrie, Queensland 4070, Australia
3Australian Animal Health Laboratory, CSIRO Livestock Industries, Private Bag 24, Geelong, Victoria 3220, Australia

ABSTRACT: Chytridiomycosis is a lethal disease of amphibians associated with mass mortalities and population declines worldwide. An accurate, non-invasive technique for detecting chytridiomycosis is urgently needed to determine the current geographical distribution of the disease, and its prevalence in wild amphibian populations. Herein we evaluate a recently devised, rapid, non-invasive, swab-PCR assay. We sampled 101 wild juvenile Mixophyes iteratus by both a skin swab for use in PCR analysis, and a toe-clip for examination by histological methods. The swab-PCR assay detected chytridiomycosis infection in a minimum of 14.9% of frogs, whereas histology detected infection in no more than 6.9% of frogs. We conclude that the swab-PCR technique is the more reliable means of detecting chytridiomycosis in wild amphibians, and that it precludes the need for toe-clipping as a means of sampling for the presence of the disease in future surveys. Further, we document a significant negative relationship between a juvenile frog’s snout-vent length and its likelihood of being infected with the disease.

KEY WORDS: Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis · Amphibian declines · Chytridiomycosis · Diagnosis · Real-time Taqman PCR assay · Chytrid

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