, Volume 69, Issue 8–9, pp 529–536 | Cite as

Major histocompatibility complex variation and the evolution of resistance to amphibian chytridiomycosis

  • Minjie Fu
  • Bruce WaldmanEmail author
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on MHC/KIR in Health and Disease


Chytridiomycosis, caused by the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), has been implicated in population declines and species extinctions of amphibians around the world. Susceptibility to the disease varies both within and among species, most likely attributable to heritable immunogenetic variation. Analyses of transcriptional expression in hosts following their infection by Bd reveal complex responses. Species resistant to Bd generally show evidence of stronger innate and adaptive immune system responses. Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I and class II genes of some susceptible species are up-regulated following host infection by Bd, but resistant species show no comparable changes in transcriptional expression. Bd-resistant species share similar pocket conformations within the MHC-II antigen-binding groove. Among susceptible species, survivors of epizootics bear alleles encoding these conformations. Individuals with homozygous resistance alleles appear to benefit by enhanced resistance, especially in environmental conditions that promote pathogen virulence. Subjects that are repeatedly infected and subsequently cleared of Bd can develop an acquired immune response to the pathogen. Strong directional selection for MHC alleles that encode resistance to Bd may deplete genetic variation necessary to respond to other pathogens. Resistance to chytridiomycosis incurs life-history costs that require further study.


Amphibian population declines Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis Chytridiomycosis Heterozygosity Major histocompatibility complex Life-history trade-offs 



We thank Arnaud Bataille and Ramasamy Dhamodharan for comments on the manuscript. Arnaud Bataille prepared Fig. 1. Our research is supported by grants (to B.W.) from the National Research Foundation of Korea (2015R1D1A1A01057282) funded by the government of the Republic of Korea (MOE), the National Geographic Foundation for Science and Exploration, and the Seoul National University R&D Foundation.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Behavioral and Population Ecology, School of Biological SciencesSeoul National UniversitySeoulSouth Korea

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