Invasive Species Compendium

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Abstract Full Text

Emerging chytrid fungal pathogen, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, in zoo amphibians in Thailand.

Abstract

Chytridiomycosis, a disease in amphibians caused by Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), has led to a population decline and extinction of frog species since 1996. The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence of and the need for establishing a surveillance system for monitoring chytridiomycosis in five national zoos and five free ranging protected areas across Thailand. A total of 492 skin swab samples were collected from live and dead animals and tested by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for the presence of Bd. The positive specimens were confirmed by amplicon sequencing and examined by histopathology and immunohistochemistry. From July 2009 to August 2012, the prevalence of Bd from frog skin samples was low (4.27%), monitored by PCR. All samples from live amphibians were negative. The positive cases were only from dead specimens (21/168, 12.5% dead samples) of two non-native captive species, poison dart frog (Dendrobates tinctorius) and tomato frog (Dyscophus antongilii) in one zoo. Immunohistochemistry and histopathology revealed the typical feature of flask-shaped zoosporangia and septate thalli, supporting the PCR-based evidence of chytridiomycosis in captive amphibians in Thailand, but detected Bd in only 7/21 of the PCR-positive samples. Although the introduction of a pathogenic strain of Bd from imported carriers might have a serious impact on the native amphibian populations in Thailand, chytridiomycosis has not currently been detected in native Thai amphibians. An active surveillance system is needed for close monitoring of the fungus crossing into Thai amphibian populations.