Interaction between temperature and sublethal infection with the amphibian chytrid fungus impacts a susceptible frog species

Lachlan Campbell*, Deborah S. Bower, Simon Clulow, Michelle Stockwell, John Clulow, Michael Mahony

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    15 Citations (Scopus)
    18 Downloads (Pure)


    The amphibian chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis is an emerging infectious pathogen present on every continent except Antarctica. It causes the disease chytridiomycosis in a subset of species but does not always result in disease or death for every host. Ambient temperature influences both amphibian metabolism and chytrid pathogenicity, however the interactive effects on host physiology is not well understood. We investigated the sublethal effect of B. dendrobatidis infection on a susceptible host, Litoria aurea to test (1) whether the infection load, metabolic activity, body fat and gonad size differed in L. aurea at either 24 °C or 12 °C ambient temperatures and (2) whether previous Bd infection caused long-term changes to body fat and gonad size. Litoria aurea in 12 °C treatments had higher infection loads of B. dendrobatidis and lower survivorship. Metabolic rate was higher and fat mass was lower in infected individuals and in animals in 24 °C treatments. Male L. aurea previously infected with B. dendrobatidis had smaller testes 5 months-post clearance of infection, an effect likely to translate to fitness costs in wild populations. These experiments demonstrate a physiological cost to sublethal B. dendrobatidis infection, which suggests a reduction in host fitness mediated by temperature in the host's environment regardless of whether infection leads to mortality.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number83
    Pages (from-to)1-8
    Number of pages8
    JournalScientific Reports
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 14 Jan 2019

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    Copyright the Author(s) 2019. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


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