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1.  Resistance to Chytridiomycosis in European Plethodontid Salamanders of the Genus Speleomantes 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e63639.
North America and the neotropics harbor nearly all species of plethodontid salamanders. In contrast, this family of caudate amphibians is represented in Europe and Asia by two genera, Speleomantes and Karsenia, which are confined to small geographic ranges. Compared to neotropical and North American plethodontids, mortality attributed to chytridiomycosis caused by Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) has not been reported for European plethodontids, despite the established presence of Bd in their geographic distribution. We determined the extent to which Bd is present in populations of all eight species of European Speleomantes and show that Bd was undetectable in 921 skin swabs. We then compared the susceptibility of one of these species, Speleomantes strinatii, to experimental infection with a highly virulent isolate of Bd (BdGPL), and compared this to the susceptible species Alytes muletensis. Whereas the inoculated A. muletensis developed increasing Bd-loads over a 4-week period, none of five exposed S. strinatii were colonized by Bd beyond 2 weeks post inoculation. Finally, we determined the extent to which skin secretions of Speleomantes species are capable of killing Bd. Skin secretions of seven Speleomantes species showed pronounced killing activity against Bd over 24 hours. In conclusion, the absence of Bd in Speleomantes combined with resistance to experimental chytridiomycosis and highly efficient skin defenses indicate that the genus Speleomantes is a taxon unlikely to decline due to Bd.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0063639
PMCID: PMC3659026  PMID: 23703511
2.  Antibacterial therapeutics for the treatment of chytrid infection in amphibians: Columbus’s egg? 
Background
The establishment of safe and effective protocols to treat chytridiomycosis in amphibians is urgently required. In this study, the usefulness of antibacterial agents to clear chytridiomycosis from infected amphibians was evaluated.
Results
Florfenicol, sulfamethoxazole, sulfadiazine and the combination of trimethoprim and sulfonamides were active in vitro against cultures of five Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis strains containing sporangia and zoospores, with minimum inhibitory concentrations (MIC) of 0.5-1.0 μg/ml for florfenicol and 8.0 μg/ml for the sulfonamides. Trimethoprim was not capable of inhibiting growth but, combined with sulfonamides, reduced the time to visible growth inhibition by the sulfonamides. Growth inhibition of B. dendrobatidis was not observed after exposure to clindamycin, doxycycline, enrofloxacin, paromomycin, polymyxin E and tylosin. Cultures of sporangia and zoospores of B. dendrobatidis strains JEL423 and IA042 were killed completely after 14 days of exposure to 100 μg/ml florfenicol or 16 μg/ml trimethoprim combined with 80 μg/ml sulfadiazine. These concentrations were, however, not capable of efficiently killing zoospores within 4 days after exposure as assessed using flow cytometry. Florfenicol concentrations remained stable in a bathing solution during a ten day period. Exposure of Discoglossus scovazzi tadpoles for ten days to 100 μg/ml but not to 10 μg florfenicol /ml water resulted in toxicity. In an in vivo trial, post metamorphic Alytes muletensis, experimentally inoculated with B. dendrobatidis, were treated topically with a solution containing 10 μg/ml of florfenicol during 14 days. Although a significant reduction of the B. dendrobatidis load was obtained, none of the treated animals cleared the infection.
Conclusions
We thus conclude that, despite marked anti B. dendrobatidis activity in vitro, the florfenicol treatment used is not capable of eliminating B. dendrobatidis infections from amphibians.
doi:10.1186/1746-6148-8-175
PMCID: PMC3488559  PMID: 23009707
3.  Germ Tube Mediated Invasion of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in Amphibian Skin Is Host Dependent 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e41481.
Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) is the causative agent of chytridiomycosis, a fungal skin disease in amphibians and driver of worldwide amphibian declines.
We focussed on the early stages of infection by Bd in 3 amphibian species with a differential susceptibility to chytridiomycosis. Skin explants of Alytes muletensis, Litoria caerulea and Xenopus leavis were exposed to Bd in an Ussing chamber for 3 to 5 days. Early interactions of Bd with amphibian skin were observed using light microscopy and transmission electron microscopy. To validate the observations in vitro, comparison was made with skin from experimentally infected frogs. Additional in vitro experiments were performed to elucidate the process of intracellular colonization in L. caerulea.
Early interactions of Bd with amphibian skin are: attachment of zoospores to host skin, zoospore germination, germ tube development, penetration into skin cells, invasive growth in the host skin, resulting in the loss of host cell cytoplasm. Inoculation of A. muletensis and L. caerulea skin was followed within 24 h by endobiotic development, with sporangia located intracellularly in the skin. Evidence is provided of how intracellular colonization is established and how colonization by Bd proceeds to deeper skin layers. Older thalli develop rhizoid-like structures that spread to deeper skin layers, form a swelling inside the host cell to finally give rise to a new thallus.
In X. laevis, interaction of Bd with skin was limited to an epibiotic state, with sporangia developing upon the skin. Only the superficial epidermis was affected. Epidermal cells seemed to be used as a nutrient source without development of intracellular thalli. The in vitro data agreed with the results obtained after experimental infection of the studied frog species. These data suggest that the colonization strategy of B. dendrobatidis is host dependent, with the extent of colonization most likely determined by inherent characteristics of the host epidermis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0041481
PMCID: PMC3401113  PMID: 22911798
4.  Waterfowl: Potential Environmental Reservoirs of the Chytrid Fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e35038.
Infections with Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (B. dendrobatidis), the causal agent of chytridiomycosis, have been shown to play an important role in the decline of amphibians worldwide. Spread of the fungus is poorly understood. Bird movement might possibly contribute to the spread of B. dendrobatidis in the environment. Therefore, 397 wild geese in Belgium were screened for presence of B. dendrobatidis on their toes using real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR). In addition, chemotaxis towards, adhesion, survival after desiccation and proliferation of B. dendrobatidis on keratinous toe scales from waterfowl were examined in vitro. qPCR revealed that 76 geese (15%) were positive for B. dendrobatidis. Results of the in vitro tests showed that B. dendrobatidis is attracted to the keratinous toes of aquatic birds on which they can adhere and even proliferate. However, desiccation is poorly tolerated. This suggests waterfowl are potential environmental reservoirs for B. dendrobatidis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0035038
PMCID: PMC3325947  PMID: 22514705

Results 1-4 (4)