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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

    DAO prepress abstract   -  DOI:

    First evidence of Ranavirus in native and invasive amphibians in Colombia

    Sandra V. Flechas*, Jenny Urbina, Andrew J. Crawford, Karen Gutierrez, Katherin Corrales, Luisa A. Castellanos, Mailyn A. González, Andrés M. Cuervo, Alessandro Catenazzi

    *Corresponding author:

    ABSTRACT: Ranaviruses can cause mass mortality events in amphibians, thereby becoming a threat to populations that are already facing dramatic declines. Ranaviruses affect all life stages and persist in multiple amphibian hosts. Detrimental effects to amphibian populations caused by ranavirus infections have already been observed in the UK and in North America. In Central and South America, the virus has been reported in several countries, but the presence of the genus Ranavirus (Rv) in Colombia is unknown. To help fill this knowledge gap, we surveyed for Rv in 60 species of frogs (including one invasive species) in Colombia. We also tested for co-infection with Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) in a subset of individuals. For Rv, we sampled 274 vouchered liver tissue samples collected between 2014 and 2019 from 41 localities covering lowlands to mountaintop páramo habitat across the country. Using quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) and end-point PCR, we detected Rv in 14 individuals from 8 localities, representing 6 species, including 5 native frogs of the genera Osornophryne, Pristimantis, Leptodactylus, and the invasive American bullfrog, Rana catesbeiana. Bd was detected in 7 of 140 individuals, with 1 co-infection of Rv and Bd in an R. catesbeiana specimen collected in 2018. This constitutes the first report of Ranavirus in Colombia and should set off alarms about this new emerging threat to amphibian populations in the country. Our findings provide some preliminary clues about how and when Rv may have spread and contribute to understanding how the pathogen is distributed globally.