Host defense or parasite cue: skin secretions mediate interactions between amphibians and their parasites

Martin Mayer*, Lia Schlippe Justicia, Richard Shine, Gregory P. Brown

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Amphibian skin secretions (substances produced by the amphibian plus microbiota) plausibly act as a first line of defense against parasite/pathogen attack, but may also provide chemical cues for pathogens. To clarify the role of skin secretions in host–parasite interactions, we conducted experiments using cane toads (Rhinella marina) and their lungworms (Rhabdias pseudosphaerocephala) from the range-core and invasion-front of the introduced anurans’ range in Australia. Depending on the geographical area, toad skin secretions can reduce the longevity and infection success of parasite larvae, or attract lungworm larvae and enhance their infection success. These striking differences between the two regions were due both to differential responses of the larvae, and differential effects of the skin secretions. Our data suggest that skin secretions play an important role in host–parasite interactions in anurans, and that the arms race between a host and parasite can rapidly generate spatial variation in critical features of that interaction.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1955-1965
Number of pages11
JournalEcology Letters
Volume24
Issue number9
Early online date26 Jun 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021

Keywords

  • Anuran
  • cane toad
  • coevolution
  • helminth
  • host–parasite interactions
  • skin secretions

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