Original Contribution

EcoHealth

, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 501-506

Towards a Better Understanding of the Use of Probiotics for Preventing Chytridiomycosis in Panamanian Golden Frogs

  • Matthew H. BeckerAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, Virginia Tech Email author 
  • , Reid N. HarrisAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, James Madison University
  • , Kevin P. C. MinbioleAffiliated withDepartment of Chemistry and Biochemistry, James Madison University
  • , Christian R. SchwantesAffiliated withDepartment of Chemistry and Biochemistry, James Madison University
  • , Louise A. Rollins-SmithAffiliated withDepartments of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology and of Pediatrics, Vanderbilt University Medical CenterDepartment of Biological Sciences, Vanderbilt University
  • , Laura K. ReinertAffiliated withDepartments of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology and of Pediatrics, Vanderbilt University Medical Center
  • , Robert M. BruckerAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, Vanderbilt University
  • , Rickie J. DomangueAffiliated withDepartment of Mathematics and Statistics, James Madison University
  • , Brian GratwickeAffiliated withSmithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

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Abstract

Populations of native Panamanian golden frogs (Atelopus zeteki) have collapsed due to a recent chytridiomycosis epidemic. Reintroduction efforts from captive assurance colonies are unlikely to be successful without the development of methods to control chytridiomycosis in the wild. In an effort to develop a protective treatment regimen, we treated golden frogs with Janthinobacterium lividum, a skin bacterium that has been used to experimentally prevent chytridiomycosis in North American amphibians. Although J. lividum appeared to colonize A. zeteki skin temporarily, it did not prevent or delay mortality in A. zeteki exposed to Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, the causative agent of chytridiomycosis. After introduction of J. lividum, average bacterial cell counts reached a peak of 1.7 × 106 cells per frog ~2 weeks after treatment but declined steadily after that. When J. lividum numbers declined to ~2.8 × 105 cells per frog, B. dendrobatidis infection intensity increased to greater than 13,000 zoospore equivalents per frog. At this point, frogs began to die of chytridiomycosis. Future research will concentrate on isolating and testing antifungal bacterial species from Panama that may be more compatible with Atelopus skin.

Keywords

Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis Chytridiomycosis Atelopus zeteki Janthinobacterium lividum probiotic