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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

    DAO prepress abstract   -  DOI:

    Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) exposure damages gill tissue and inhibits crayfish respiration

    Caitlin L. Nordheim, Jeffrey M. Grim,Taegan A. McMahon*

    *Corresponding author:

    ABSTRACT: Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) is a pathogenic fungus known to infect amphibians and crayfish. In crayfish, Bd causes gill tissue damage and in some cases, mortality. Most research has focused on the amphibian-Bd system, and so to date, we do not know about the effects of Bd on the crayfish host. Here, we studied the effects of sublethal exposure to Bd and the metabolites produced by Bd on crayfish Procambarus alleni survival, gill damage, and oxygen consumption (as a proxy for mass-specific metabolic rate). Oxygen consumption increased 24 h post-exposure to live Bd (χ 21 = 5.50; p = 0.019), indicative of a stress response, followed by a decrease in oxygen consumption over time (χ 21 = 6.39, p = 0.012). There was no difference in response when comparing the crayfish exposure to live Bd and Bd-metabolites alone (χ 21 = 2.70, p = 0.101), indicating that the metabolites may have been the causative agent responsible for the response. Additionally, oxygen consumption decreased with gill damage (tissue recession) in Bd-exposed individuals. We found that high doses of Bd cause outright mortality in crayfish, and we show here that sublethal Bd-induced inhibition of oxygen consumption could negatively impact crayfish in the field, possibly reducing their overall fitness. More research is needed to understand this understudied host–parasite system. It is essential that we incorporate the disease dynamics associated with Bd and crayfish in conservation disease models, as this is the only way to develop comprehensive community-based models.