Amphibians with infectious disease increase their reproductive effort: evidence for the terminal investment hypothesis

Brannelly, Laura A., Webb, Rebecca, Skerratt, Lee F., and Berger, Lee (2016) Amphibians with infectious disease increase their reproductive effort: evidence for the terminal investment hypothesis. Open Biology, 6. 150251.

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Mounting an immune response to fight disease is costly for an organism and can reduce investment in another life-history trait, such as reproduction. The terminal investment hypothesis predicts that an organism will increase reproductive effort when threatened by disease. The reproductive fitness of amphibians infected with the deadly fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) is largely unknown. In this study, we explored gametogenesis in two endangered and susceptible frog species, Pseudophryne corroboree and Litoria verreauxii alpina. Gametogenesis, both oogenesis and spermatogenesis, increased when animals were experimentally infected with Bd. In P. corroboree, infected males have thicker germinal epithelium, and a larger proportion of spermatocytes. In L. v. alpina, infected males had more spermatic cell bundles in total, and a larger proportion of spermatozoa bundles. In female L. v. alpina, ovaries and oviducts were larger in infected animals, and there were more cells present within the ovaries. Terminal investment has consequences for the evolution of disease resistance in declining species. If infected animals are increasing reproductive efforts and producing more offspring before succumbing to disease, it is possible that population-level selection for disease resistance will be minimized.

Item ID: 44610
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2046-2441
Keywords: chytrid fungus, oogenesis, reproduction, spermatogenesis, terminal investment, wildlife disease
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© 2016 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.

Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC), Taronga Zoo
Projects and Grants: ARC FT100100375 and LP110200240)
Date Deposited: 19 Jul 2016 01:14
FoR Codes: 30 AGRICULTURAL, VETERINARY AND FOOD SCIENCES > 3009 Veterinary sciences > 300908 Veterinary mycology @ 80%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310903 Animal developmental and reproductive biology @ 20%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960810 Mountain and High Country Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 70%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9604 Control of Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species > 960499 Control of Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species not elsewhere classified @ 30%
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