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Title: Asymmetric cross-strain protection for amphibians exposed to a fungal-metabolite prophylactic treatment
Chytridiomycosis, an infectious disease of amphibians caused by the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), poses an imminent conservation threat. The global spread of Bd has led to mass mortality events in many amphibian species, resulting in at least 90 species' extinctions to date. Exposure to Bd metabolites (i.e. non-infectious antigenic chemicals released by Bd) partially protects frogs during subsequent challenges with live Bd, suggesting its use as a prophylactic treatment and potential vaccine. However, we do not know whether Bd metabolite exposure protects against strains beyond the one used for treatment. To address this knowledge gap, we conducted a 3 × 2 experiment where we exposed adult Cuban treefrogs, Osteopilus septentrionalis , to one of three treatments (Bd metabolites from California-isolated strain JEL-270, Panamá-isolated strain JEL-419, or an artificial spring water control) and then challenged individuals with live Bd from either strain. We found that exposure to Bd metabolites from the California-isolated strain significantly reduced Bd loads of frogs challenged with the live Panamá-isolated strain, but no other treatments were found to confer protective effects. These findings demonstrate asymmetric cross-protection of a Bd metabolite prophylaxis and suggest that work investigating multiple, diverse strains is urgently needed.
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Biology Letters
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National Science Foundation
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