Prevalence of the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in amphibians of Costa Rica predated first-known epizootic Artículo académico uri icon


  • Emerging infectious diseases are a growing threat to biodiversity worldwide. Outbreaks of the infectious disease chytridiomycosis, caused by the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), have caused the decline and extinction of numerous amphibian species. In Costa Rica, a major decline event occurred in 1987, more than two decades before this pathogen was discovered. The loss of many species in Costa Rica is assumed to be due to Bd-epizootics, but there are few studies that provide data from amphibians in the time leading up to the proposed epizootics. In this study, we provide new data on Bd infection rates of amphibians collected throughout Costa Rica, in the decades prior to the epizootics. We used a quantitative PCR assay to test for Bd infection in 1016 specimens collected throughout Costa Rica. We found Bd-infected hosts collected as early as 1964, and a infection prevalence average per decade of just 4%. The infection prevalence remained relatively low and geographically constrained until the 1980s when epizootics are hypothesized to have occurred. After that time, infection prevalence increased three-fold and Bd-infected hosts we collected throughout the entire country. Our results, suggest that Bd may either have invaded Costa Rica earlier than previously known, and spread more slowly than previously reported, or that an endemic lineage of the pathogen may exists. To help visualize areas where future studies should take place, we provide a Bd habitat suitability model trained with local data. Studies that provide information on genetic lineages of Bd are needed to determine whether an endemic lineage of Bd or the Global Panzootic Lineage (identified from mass die off sites globally) was present in Costa Rica and responsible for the epizootics that caused amphibian communities to collapse.

fecha de publicación

  • 2018

Publicado en