Chytridiomycosis Survey in Wild and Captive Mexican Amphibians

Frías-Alvarez, Patricia; Vredenburg, Vance; Familiar-López, Mariel; Longcore, Joyce; González-Bernal, Edna; Santos-Barrera, Georgina; Zambrano, Luis; Parra-Olea, Gabriela
March 2008
EcoHealth;Mar2008, Vol. 5 Issue 1, p18
Academic Journal
Mexico, a rich country in terms of amphibian diversity, hosts about 375 described species. Population declines have been documented for several species where it is evident that their habitat is being destroyed or modified. However, other species which inhabit pristine areas are declining as well. It has been suggested that the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (B.d.) may be one of the causes of the enigmatic declines in Mexico. We surveyed a total of 45 localities, in 12 states across Mexico, examining a total of 360 specimens representing 14 genera and 30 species. We also examined 91 specimens of Ambystoma mexicanum from a captive population in Mexico City as well as one Pachymedusa dacnicolor obtained in a pet shop. We used a two-tiered technique to detect the pathogen. For wild-caught specimens, we utilized light microscopy to identify presence of B.d. sporangia in amphibian skin. Then, to verify the infection, we used a quantitative real-time PCR assay on collected skin sections which is specific for B.d. For captive animals, we used a nonlethal version of the real-time PCR technique. We found evidence of B.d. infection in 111 animals comprising 14 species in 13 localities. A large percentage (84%) of Ambystoma mexicanum from the colony were infected with B.d. The two most highly infected individuals were the endangered Ambystoma mexicanum, from a captive colony, and Pachymedusa dacnicolor, purchased at a pet shop.


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