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PLoS One. 2013;8(4):e60920. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0060920. Epub 2013 Apr 2.

Development and infectious disease in hosts with complex life cycles.

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1
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA. searlec@umich.edu

Abstract

Metamorphosis is often characterized by profound changes in morphology and physiology that can affect the dynamics of species interactions. For example, the interaction between a pathogen and its host may differ depending on the life stage of the host or pathogen. One pathogen that infects hosts with complex life cycles is the emerging fungal pathogen of amphibians, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). We sought to determine how conditions at the larval stage can affect variation in development and patterns of Bd infection across amphibian life stages. We used outdoor experimental mesocosms to simulate natural pond habitats and manipulated the presence of Bd, the larval density, and the number of host species in larvae of two co-occurring amphibian species (Rana cascadae and Pseudacris regilla). We found that infection differed between species throughout development; P. regilla consistently had higher infection severity compared to R. cascadae. Additionally, while up to 100% of larvae were infected, only 18.2% of R. cascadae and 81.5% of P. regilla were infected after metamorphosis. This indicates that amphibians have the ability to recover from Bd infection as they undergo metamorphosis. Higher larval densities in P. regilla led to a shorter larval period, and individuals with a shorter larval period had lower infection severity. This led to a trend where P. regilla larvae reared at high densities tended to have lower infection prevalence after metamorphosis. We also found that exposure to Bd increased larval mortality and prolonged the larval period in P. regilla, indicating that P. regilla are susceptible to the negative effects of Bd as larvae. This study demonstrates that host density, species composition, and pathogen exposure may all interact to influence development and infection in hosts with complex life cycles.

PMID:
23565288
PMCID:
PMC3615074
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0060920
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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