High Prevalence of the Amphibian Chytrid Pathogen in Gabon

Abstract

Amphibian chytridiomycosis is an infectious disease caused by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) that is implicated in the worldwide decline and extinction of amphibians. Africa has been proposed as a potential source for the global expansion of Bd, yet the distribution of Bd across the continent remains largely unexplored. Using quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR), we screened for the presence of Bd in 166 adult anurans from two national parks in Gabon (Monts de Cristal and Ivindo). Bd was detected in 20 of the 42 species and was present at all three sites surveyed (two in Monts de Cristal, and one in Ivindo) with high prevalence (19.6%–36.0%). Both national parks were Bd-positive at all elevations and across habitat types, though no dead or dying frogs were encountered. To our knowledge, this study presents the first evidence of Bd in Gabon and the first record of infection for 19 of the 20 species that were Bd-positive. Documenting the distribution and virulence of Bd across Africa will be essential for understanding the dynamics of amphibian chytridiomycosis across the globe.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Berger L, Speare R, Skerratt L (2005) Distribution of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis and pathology in the skin of green tree frogs (Litoria caerulea) with severe chytridiomycosis. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 68:65–70.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Boyle DG, Boyle DB, Olsen V, Morgan JAT, Hyatt AD (2004) Rapid quantitative detection of chytridiomycosis (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) in amphibian samples using realtime Taqman PCR assay. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 60:141–148.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Doherty-Bone TM, Bielby J, Gonwouo NL, LeBreton M, Cunningham AA (2008) In a vulnerable position? Preliminary work fails to detect the amphibian chytrid pathogen in the highlands of Cameroon, an amphibian hotspot. Herpetological Journal 18:115–118.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Goldberg TL, Readel AM, Lee MH (2007) Chytrid fungus in frogs from an equatorial African montane forest in western Uganda. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 43:521–524.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Greenbaum E, Kusamba C, Aristote MM, Reed K (2008) Amphibian chytrid fungus infections in Hyperolius (Anura: Hyperoliidae) from Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Herpetological Review 39:70–73.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Hopkins S, Channing A (2003) Chytrid fungus in Northern and Southern Cape frog populations, South Africa. Herpetological Review 34:334–336.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Hyatt AD, Boyle DG, Olsen V, Boyle DB, Berger L, Obendorf D, et al. (2007) Diagnostic assays and sampling protocols for the detection of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 73:175–192.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Imasuen AA, Weldon C, Aisien MSO, Dupreez LH (2009) Amphibian chytridiomycosis: first report in Nigeria from the skin slough of Chiromantis rufescens. Froglog 90:6–8.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Kielgast J, Rödder D, Veith M, Lötters S (2009) Widespread occurrence of the amphibian chytrid fungus in Kenya. Animal Conservation 13:1–8.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Lips KR, Brem F, Brenes B, Reeve JD, Alford RA, Voyles J, et al. (2006) Emerging infectious disease and the loss of biodiversity in a neotropical amphibian community. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 103:3165–3170.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. Lötters S, Rödel MO, Burger M (2005) A new large tree frog from north-western Gabon (Hyperoliidae:Leptopelis). Herpetological Journal 15:149–152.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Pauwels OSG, Rödel MO (2007) Amphibians and National Parks in Gabon, western Central Africa. Herpetozoa 19:135–148.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Soto-Azat C, Clarke BT, Poynton JC, Cunningham AA (2010) Widespread historical presence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in African pipid frogs. Diversity and Distributions 16:126–131.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Weldon C, du Preez LH, Hyatt AD, Muller R, Speare R (2004) Origin of the amphibian chytrid fungus. Emerging Infectious Diseases 10:2100–2105.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

We thank the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique et Technologique (CENAREST) and Agence Nationale des Parcs Nationaux (ANPN) for research permits, the National Park Directors H. Allogho and J. Okouyi for kind assistance, and the Direction de la Faune et de la Chasse for export permits. For logistical support, we thank the Wildlife Conservation Society Gabon Program (R. Calaque, C. Connolly, A. Whittaker, M. Hega, H. Koumakoudi, H. Deribe, G. Abitsi, M. Starkey, and M. Mengue). For assistance in the field, we thank P. Minko, T. Essone, and N. Emba-Yao. A. Longo, C.G. Becker, and two anonymous reviewers provided valuable comments that greatly improved the manuscript. This research was completed with financial support from the Explorer’s Club, Sigma Xi, Sigma Xi Cornell Chapter, the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell to R.C.B., and the Herpetology Department at the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University to R.C.B. and B.L.S.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Rayna C. Bell.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary material 1 (PDF 63 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Bell, R.C., Gata Garcia, A.V., Stuart, B.L. et al. High Prevalence of the Amphibian Chytrid Pathogen in Gabon. EcoHealth 8, 116–120 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10393-010-0364-4

Download citation

Keywords

  • amphibian pathogen
  • Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis
  • chytridiomycosis
  • Gabon