Discipline: Ecology Environmental and Earth Sciences
Room: Park Tower 8212
Kirsten Curran - Virginia State University
Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis fungus (Bd), interferes with cutaneous respiration in amphibians, infecting populations globally. Since Bd’s confirmation in 1998 over 500 species have declined and almost 100 have become extinct. Bd is responsible for the greatest loss of biodiversity ascribed to a disease. South American frogs in tropical wet areas are among those most at risk. In South America Bd has been reported for frogs in nine of 12 countries. Bd was found in frogs in French Guiana and Brazil, countries that border Suriname. Where no extensive surveys have been conducted. Because the fungus spores are thought to be transmitted by humans tracking mud from infected areas to non-infected areas, we hypothesized that frogs from areas of high tourist activity would show the presence of Bd in Suriname. To test this hypothesis we surveyed frogs in national parks, tourist hotels and remote regions. Frogs were caught using disposable sterile gloves and gently swabbed 25 times on their stomachs and 10 times on each leg with a sterile cotton swab. After swabbing, the swab was then placed into a 70% ethanol filled test tube. Species, morphological measurements and GPS locations were recorded for each frog. Frogs were then released unharmed at the site of capture. DNA samples were subsequently assayed for the presence of the Bd ribosomal RNA intervening transcribed sequence region by 45 cycle PCR amplification using a qPCR assay by Pisces Molecular Labs. During May-June in 2015, 2018 and 2019, we surveyed eight different locations in Suriname. We tested 392 frogs of 32 species and eight families for the presence of Bd. All samples were negative for the presence of Bd. Our hypothesis that fungus is being transmitted via mud on people’s shoes was not supported. The current absence of Bd infection in the frogs of Suriname provides a unique opportunity to take proactive measures to protect its endemic and threatened species before Bd’s eventual spread into one of the last countries in South America where its presences has not been detected. In addition, future research will enable us to determine the direction, rate and means of future Bd infection. Lastly, it provides researchers an opportunity to employ proactive measures to protect and rehabilitate species that are or may be infected by Bd. References: Bower D.S., Lips K.R., Amepou Y., et al. (2019) Island of opportunity: can new guinea protect amphibians from a globally emerging pathogen. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 348:348-354 Jame T.Y., Toledo L.F., Rodder D., et al. (2015) Disentangling host, pathogen, and environment determining of a recently emerged wildlife disease: lessons from the first 15 years of a amphibian chytridiomycosis copses research. Ecology and Evolution 5: 4079-4097 Scheel, B.C. et al. (2019) Amphibian fungal panzootic causes catastrophic and ongoing loss of biodiversity. Science 363: 1459-1463
Funder Acknowledgement(s): Acknowledgements: I thank D. Davidson, S. Grenier, D. Hardy, A. Harris, R. Kemajou ,C. Lockett, A. Velez, A. White, S.M. Witiak and , R. Jairam from the University of Suriname for help in the field and the lending of his expertise. P. Ouboter from the University of Suriname helped with logistical support and offered comments on our research. Funding was provided by an NSF/ HBCU-UP grant to C. d'Orgeix.
Faculty Advisor: Christian d'Orgeix, email@example.com
Role: I participated in data collection , analysis , and writing .