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Title: Susceptibility to disease varies with ontogeny and immunocompetence in a threatened amphibian
Contributor(s): Abu Bakar, Amalina (author); Bower, Deborah S  (author); Stockwell, Michelle P (author); Clulow, Simon (author); Clulow, John (author); Mahony, Michael J (author)
Publication Date: 2016-08
Early Online Version: 2016-03-29
DOI: 10.1007/s00442-016-3607-4
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Abstract: Ontogenetic changes in disease susceptibility have been demonstrated in many vertebrate taxa, as immature immune systems and limited prior exposure to pathogens can place less developed juveniles at a greater disease risk. By causing the disease chytridiomycosis, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) infection has led to the decline of many amphibian species. Despite increasing knowledge on how Bd varies in its effects among species, little is known on the interaction between susceptibility and development within host species. We compared the ontogenetic susceptibility of post-metamorphic green and golden bell frogs Litoria aurea to chytridiomycosis by simultaneously measuring three host-pathogen responses as indicators of the development of the fungus-infection load, survival rate, and host immunocompetence-following Bd exposure in three life stages (recently metamorphosed juveniles, subadults, adults) over 95 days. Frogs exposed to Bd as recently metamorphosed juveniles acquired higher infection loads and experienced lower immune function and lower survivorship than subadults and adults, indicating an ontogenetic decline in chytridiomycosis susceptibility. By corresponding with an intrinsic developmental maturation in immunocompetence seen in uninfected frogs, we suggest these developmental changes in host susceptibility in L. aurea may be immune mediated. Consequently, the physiological relationship between ontogeny and immunity may affect host population structure and demography through variation in life stage survival, and understanding this can shape management targets for effective amphibian conservation.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Grant Details: ARC/LP0989459
Source of Publication: Oecologia, 181(4), p. 997-1009
Publisher: Springer
Place of Publication: Germany
ISSN: 0029-8549
Field of Research (FOR): 060504 Microbial Ecology
050202 Conservation and Biodiversity
060207 Population Ecology
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO): 960807 Fresh, Ground and Surface Water Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
Appears in Collections:Journal Article
School of Environmental and Rural Science

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