PS 44-106 - Presence of Ranavirus and the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in reptiles and amphibians sharing three water bodies in Virginia

Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Exhibit Hall 3, Austin Convention Center
Rachel Goodman, Biology Dept, Associate Professor, Hampden-Sydney, VA, Yonathan Tarekegne Ararso, Biology, Hampden-Sydney College, Hampden-Sydney, VA and Debra L. Miller, Center for Wildlife Health, Dept of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries, Univ Knoxville, TN

Emerging infectious diseases, in concert with and in addition to habitat loss and pollution, have caused mortality events and population declines of amphibians and reptiles globally.  Within the last couple decades, diseases caused by Ranaviruses and the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) have been reported as major threats to amphibians worldwide. While Bd has received more attention internationally because of its role in species extinctions, Ranaviruses are responsible for more catastrophic die-offs of amphibians in North America.  Also, Ranaviruses can live in multiple hosts including several species of reptiles and amphibians, whereas Bd is only known to infect amphibians.  In the current study, we surveyed three water bodies in two neighboring regions in Virginia, and tested frogs for Bd and both frogs and turtles for Ranavirus. Capture of amphibians was conducted during three months, and turtle trapping was conducted during five weeks in 2010.


Quantitative PCR of body swabs for Bd, and tissue samples and oral-cloacal swabs for Ranavirus indicated the presence of both pathogens in each water body.  Samples from amphibians Pseudacris crucifer, Lithobates palustris, and Acris crepitans tested positive for Bd.  Ranavirus was found in tissue samples, but not oral-cloacal swabs, from turtles Chrysemys picta picta; however this pathogen was not found in any amphibians sharing the three water bodies. Much about the basic biology, distribution, and prevalence of Ranaviruses and Bd remain unknown; therefore continued research and monitoring are critical.

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