, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 18–26 | Cite as

Chytridiomycosis Survey in Wild and Captive Mexican Amphibians

  • Patricia Frías-Alvarez
  • Vance T. Vredenburg
  • Mariel Familiar-López
  • Joyce E. Longcore
  • Edna González-Bernal
  • Georgina Santos-Barrera
  • Luis Zambrano
  • Gabriela Parra-Olea
Original Contribution


Mexico, a rich country in terms of amphibian diversity, hosts about 375 described species. Population declines have been documented for several species where it is evident that their habitat is being destroyed or modified. However, other species which inhabit pristine areas are declining as well. It has been suggested that the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (B.d.) may be one of the causes of the enigmatic declines in Mexico. We surveyed a total of 45 localities, in 12 states across Mexico, examining a total of 360 specimens representing 14 genera and 30 species. We also examined 91 specimens of Ambystoma mexicanum from a captive population in Mexico City as well as one Pachymedusa dacnicolor obtained in a pet shop. We used a two-tiered technique to detect the pathogen. For wild-caught specimens, we utilized light microscopy to identify presence of B.d. sporangia in amphibian skin. Then, to verify the infection, we used a quantitative real-time PCR assay on collected skin sections which is specific for B.d. For captive animals, we used a nonlethal version of the real-time PCR technique. We found evidence of B.d. infection in 111 animals comprising 14 species in 13 localities. A large percentage (84%) of Ambystoma mexicanum from the colony were infected with B.d. The two most highly infected individuals were the endangered Ambystoma mexicanum, from a captive colony, and Pachymedusa dacnicolor, purchased at a pet shop.


Mexico Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis amphibian declines salamanders 



Research was supported by Semarnat-Conacyt 2002-C01-0015, PAPIIT-UNAM IN226605 UC MEXUS-CONACyT (to G.P.O.), and RANA (NSF:DEB-0130273). We thank L. Márquez (Laboratorio de Biología Molecular, I—Biología, UNAM) and Tate Tunstall (UC—Berkeley) for laboratory assistance and support. A.D. Hyatt provided zoospores. The following people provided samples: M. Barrios, C. Duifhuis, I. Duran, L. García, U. García, E. González, A. Guillén, E. Martínez, N. Matías, R. Percino, U. Razo, R. Rosas, J.C. Windfield, and L. Zambrano. We thank Juan Carlos Windfield-Pérez for help with graphics. Gerardo Pérez-Ponce de León and two anonymous referees made helpful suggestions that greatly improved the manuscript.

Supplementary material

10393_2008_155_MOESM1_ESM.doc (163 kb)
(DOC 163 kb)


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Copyright information

© Ecohealth Journal Consortium 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patricia Frías-Alvarez
    • 1
  • Vance T. Vredenburg
    • 2
  • Mariel Familiar-López
    • 3
  • Joyce E. Longcore
    • 4
  • Edna González-Bernal
    • 1
  • Georgina Santos-Barrera
    • 3
  • Luis Zambrano
    • 1
  • Gabriela Parra-Olea
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Zoología, Instituto de BiologíaUNAMMéxicoMéxico
  2. 2.Department of BiologySan Francisco State UniversitySan FranciscoUSA
  3. 3.Museo de Zoología, Facultad de CienciasUNAMMéxicoMéxico
  4. 4.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of MaineOronoUSA

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