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J Wildl Dis. 2009 Jul;45(3):631-6.

Experimental infection of native north Carolina salamanders with Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis.

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North Carolina State University, College of Veterinary Medicine, Raleigh, NC 27606, USA.


Chytridiomycosis is an often fatal fungal disease of amphibians caused by Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. This disease has been implicated in the worldwide decline of many anuran species, but studies of chytridiomycosis in wild salamanders are limited. Between August 2006 and December 2006, we tested wild amphibians in North Carolina, USA (n=212) by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). We identified three PCR-positive animals: one Rana clamitans and two Plethodontid salamanders. We experimentally infected two species of native North Carolina Plethodontid salamanders, the slimy salamander (Plethodon glutinosus) and the Blue Ridge Mountain dusky salamander (Desmognathus orestes) with 1,000,000 zoospores of B. dendrobatidis per animal. Susceptibility was species dependent; all slimy salamanders developed clinical signs of chytridiomycosis, and one died, whereas dusky salamanders remained unaffected. In a second experiment, we challenged naïve slimy salamanders with either 10,000 or 100,000 motile zoospores per animal. Clinical signs consistent with chytridiomycosis were not observed at either dose or in uninfected controls during the 45 days of this experiment. All animals inoculated with B. dendrobatidis in both experiments, regardless of dose, tested positive by PCR. Our study indicates that slimy salamanders are more susceptible to clinical chytridiomycosis than dusky salamanders, and in a laboratory setting, a dose greater than 100,000 zoospores per animal is required to induce clinical disease. This study also indicates that PCR is a very sensitive tool for detecting B. dendrobatidis infection, even in animals that are clinically unaffected, thus positive results should be interpreted with caution.

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