Low humidity is a failed treatment option for chytridiomycosis in the critically endangered southern corroboree frog

Brannelly, Laura A., Berger, Lee, Marantelli, Gerry, and Skerratt, Lee F. (2015) Low humidity is a failed treatment option for chytridiomycosis in the critically endangered southern corroboree frog. Wildlife Research, 42 (1). pp. 44-49.

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Context: One of the major drivers of the current worldwide amphibian decline and extinction crisis is the spread of the amphibian chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). Captive assurance colonies may be the only lifeline for some species. Current antifungal chemotherapies can be effective for clearing infection but may have detrimental side effects. The only non-chemotherapeutic treatment that has been clinically tested is heat, which is impractical for cold-adapted species. The fungus does not survive desiccation, and therefore a plausible alternative non-chemotherapeutic treatment would be a low-humidity regimen.

Aims: We tested the efficacy of a low-humidity treatment regimen for treating Bd-infected animals of the critically endangered species Pseudophryne corroboree. This species has high tolerance of dry environments, and is thus an ideal candidate for this treatment trial.

Methods: Forty frogs were exposed to 1 × 106 zoospores. At three weeks after exposure access to water was reduced to once daily for 10 days for 20 animals. Ten of these animals were also rinsed daily with the aim of removing zoospores.

Key results: The drying regimen neither increased survival nor decreased infection load, and treatment may have hastened mortality. All infected frogs died between 21 and 80 days after exposure, except one untreated frog.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that a drying regimen is not a viable treatment for chytridiomycosis. Infection may decrease the host's ability to cope with water stress.

Implications: The failed drying treatment in P. corroboree suggests that drying is not an appropriate treatment for chytridiomycosis and treatment efforts should be focussed on chemotherapies for cold-adapted species. P. corroboree is a critically endangered species for which chytridiomycosis is the primary cause of decline, yet few experiments have been carried out on this species with regards to chytridiomycosis. All experimental information about this species and disease will benefit the management and protection of the species.

Item ID: 43736
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1448-5494
Keywords: dry treatment, non-chemotherapeutic treatment, Pseudophryne corroboree
Date Deposited: 17 May 2016 00:10
FoR Codes: 07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0707 Veterinary Sciences > 070799 Veterinary Sciences not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960899 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity of Environments not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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