Only skin deep: shared genetic response to the deadly chytrid fungus in susceptible frog species
ABSTRACT: Amphibian populations around the world are threatened by an emerging infectious pathogen, the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). How can a fungal skin infection kill such a broad range of amphibian hosts? And why are certain species particularly susceptible to the impacts of Bd? Here we use a genomics approach to understand the genetic response of multiple susceptible frog species to Bd infection. We characterize the transcriptomes of two closely-related endangered frog species (Rana muscosa and Rana sierrae) and analyze whole genome expression profiles from frogs in controlled Bd-infection experiments. We integrate the Rana results with a comparable dataset from a more distantly-related susceptible species (Silurana tropicalis). We demonstrate that Bd-infected frogs show massive disruption of skin function and show no evidence of a robust immune response. The genetic response to infection is shared across the focal susceptible species, suggesting a common effect of Bd on susceptible frogs. A total of five (12-plex) chips were analyzed from 60 samples comprising 2 conditions (control and infected), 3 tissues (skin, liver and spleen) and 2 timepoints (early and late). Three biological replicates were used for each condition and tissue at each time point. Twentyfour arrays were analyzed for skin samples, 24 for liver, and 12 for spleen. The same dye, Cy5, was used for all samples.
ORGANISM(S): Rana Sierrae Rana Muscosa
TISSUE(S): Spleen, Liver, Skin
SUBMITTER: E B Rosenblum Thomas PoortenG K MurdochM SettlesT J Poorten
Project description:Amphibian populations around the world are threatened by an emerging infectious pathogen, the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). How can a fungal skin infection kill such a broad range of amphibian hosts? And why are certain species particularly susceptible to the impacts of Bd? Here we use a genomics approach to understand the genetic response of multiple susceptible frog species to Bd infection. We characterize the transcriptomes of two closely-related endangered frog species (Rana muscosa and Rana sierrae) and analyze whole genome expression profiles from frogs in controlled Bd-infection experiments. We integrate the Rana results with a comparable dataset from a more distantly-related susceptible species (Silurana tropicalis). We demonstrate that Bd-infected frogs show massive disruption of skin function and show no evidence of a robust immune response. The genetic response to infection is shared across the focal susceptible species, suggesting a common effect of Bd on susceptible frogs. A total of five (12-plex) chips were analyzed from 60 samples comprising 2 conditions (control and infected), 3 tissues (skin, liver and spleen) and 2 timepoints (early and late). Three biological replicates were used for each condition and tissue at each time point. Twentyfour arrays were analyzed for skin samples, 24 for liver, and 12 for spleen. The same dye, Cy5, was used for all samples.
Project description:This experiment examined the transcriptional response of juvenile amphibian hosts (common frog, Rana temporaria) to two important amphibian pathogens: Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) and Ranavirus. Common frogs are non-model organisms which do not have a reference genome.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>In Japan and East Asia, endemic frogs appear to be tolerant or not susceptible to chytridiomycosis, a deadly amphibian disease caused by the chytrid fungus Batrachochytridium dendrobatidis (Bd). Japanese frogs may have evolved mechanisms of immune resistance to pathogens such as Bd. This study characterizes immune genes expressed in various tissues of healthy Japanese Rana frogs.<h4>Results</h4>We generated transcriptome data sets of skin, spleen and blood from three adult Japanese Ranidae frogs (Japanese brown frog Rana japonica, the montane brown frog Rana ornativentris, and Tago's brown frog Rana tagoi tagoi) as well as whole body of R. japonica and R. ornativentris tadpoles. From this, we identified tissue- and stage-specific differentially expressed genes; in particular, the spleen was most enriched for immune-related genes. A specific immune gene, major histocompatibility complex class IIB (MHC-IIB), was further characterized due to its role in pathogen recognition. We identified a total of 33 MHC-IIB variants from the three focal species (n = 7 individuals each), which displayed evolutionary signatures related to increased MHC variation, including balancing selection. Our supertyping analyses of MHC-IIB variants from Japanese frogs and previously studied frog species identified potential physiochemical properties of MHC-II that may be important for recognizing and binding chytrid-related antigens.<h4>Conclusions</h4>This is one of the first studies to generate transcriptomic resources for Japanese frogs, and contributes to further understanding the immunogenetic factors associated with resistance to infectious diseases in amphibians such as chytridiomycosis. Notably, MHC-IIB supertyping analyses identified unique functional properties of specific MHC-IIB alleles that may partially contribute to Bd resistance, and such properties provide a springboard for future experimental validation.
Project description:In the past century, recently emerged infectious diseases have become major drivers of species decline and extinction. Amphibian declines have occurred due to the fungal disease chytridiomycosis, which has exacerbated the conservation crisis of this taxonomic group. Biologists are beginning to understand what traits are important for susceptibility to this disease, but more work is needed to determine why some species succumb to disease while others do not. We conducted a laboratory experiment to examine how two toad species respond to infection in controlled environment. We selected two related species thought to differ in susceptibility – Bufo marinus (an invasive and putatively resistant species) and B. boreas (an endangered and putatively susceptible species). We measured infection intensity, body weight, histological changes at the site of infection, and genome-wide gene expression changes using a custom assay developed from transcriptome sequencing. Our results confirmed that the two species differ in susceptibility. The more susceptible species, B. boreas, experienced higher infection intensities, loss in body weight, more dramatic histological changes, and larger perturbations in gene expression. We found key differences in skin expression responses in multiple pathways including up-regulation of skin integrity-related genes in the resistant B. marinus. Together our results show intrinsic differences in host response between related species, which are likely to be an important factor in explaining variation in response to a deadly emerging pathogen in wild populations. We processed 72 tissue samples in total: six biological replicates, three tissue types (ventral skin, liver, spleen), two treatment groups (pathogen exposed, control), and two host species (Bufo marinus, Bufo boreas). The custom Nimblegen microarray design included 135,200 60-bp probes (excluding control probes) targeting 31,367 transcript contigs from Bufo marinus, Bufo boreas, and model species Xenopus tropicalis, with 4 probes per probe-set. We used the 12-plex microarray platform (12 arrays per glass slide). Differential expression analyses were performed separately for each tissue type and host species.
Project description:Chytridiomycosis, the disease caused by the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), has devastated global amphibian biodiversity. Nevertheless, some hosts avoid disease after Bd exposure even as others experience near-complete extirpation. It remains unclear whether the amphibian adaptive immune system plays a role in Bd defence. Here, we describe gene expression in two host species-one susceptible to chytridiomycosis and one resistant-following exposure to two Bd isolates that differ in virulence. Susceptible wood frogs (Rana sylvatica) had high infection loads and mortality when exposed to the more virulent Bd isolate but lower infection loads and no fatal disease when exposed to the less virulent isolate. Resistant American bullfrogs (R. catesbeiana) had high survival across treatments and rapidly cleared Bd infection or avoided infection entirely. We found widespread upregulation of adaptive immune genes and downregulation of important metabolic and cellular maintenance components in wood frogs after Bd exposure, whereas American bullfrogs showed little gene expression change and no evidence of an adaptive immune response. Wood frog responses suggest that adaptive immune defences may be ineffective against virulent Bd isolates that can cause rapid physiological dysfunction. By contrast, American bullfrogs exhibited robust resistance to Bd that is likely attributable, at least in part, to their continued upkeep of metabolic and skin integrity pathways as well as greater antimicrobial peptide expression compared to wood frogs, regardless of exposure. Greater understanding of these defences will ultimately help conservationists manage chytridiomycosis.
Project description:Parasites and pathogens are often aggregated in a minority of susceptible hosts within a population, with a majority of individuals harboring low infection intensities. However, determining the relative importance of host traits to explain this heterogeneity is a challenge. One ecologically important pathogen is Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), which causes the disease chytridiomycosis and has been associated with many amphibian population declines worldwide. For many hosts, post-metamorphic stages are generally more susceptible than the larval stage. Yet, examination of the effects of Bd infection at different ages within a life stage, has received little attention. This study investigated the hypothesis that recently-post-metamorphic frogs were more sensitive to chytridiomycosis than older frogs, and that sensitivity to Bd infection decreased as frogs aged. We examined this relationship with Pacific treefrogs (Pseudacris regilla) and red legged frogs (Rana aurora). Age had a strong effect on susceptibility to infection, infection intensity, and survival-but not in the directions we had predicted. In both host species, an increase in age was associated with frogs becoming more susceptible to Bd infection, harboring larger infection intensities, and greater risk of mortality. This suggests that the timing of Bd exposure may influence amphibian population dynamics.
Project description:Chytridiomycosis is a fungal disease caused by the pathogens, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) and B. salamandrivorans (Bsal), which has caused declines in amphibian populations worldwide. Asia is considered as a coldspot of infection, since adult frogs are less susceptible to Bd-induced mortality or morbidity. Using the next-generation sequencing approach, we assessed the cutaneous bacterial community composition and presence of anti-Bd bacteria in six frog species from India using DNA isolated from skin swabs. All the six frog species sampled were tested using nested PCR and found Bd negative. We found a total of 551 OTUs on frog skin, of which the bacterial phyla such as Proteobacteria (56.15% average relative abundance) was dominated followed by Actinobacteria (21.98% average relative abundance) and Firmicutes (13.7% average relative abundance). The contribution of Proteobacteria in the anti-Bd community was highest and represented by 175 OTUs. Overall, the anti-Bd bacterial community dominated (51.7% anti-Bd OTUs) the skin microbiome of the frogs. The study highlights the putative role of frog skin microbiome in affording resistance to Bd infections in coldspots of infection.
Project description:Carotenoids are considered beneficial nutrients because they provide increased immune capacity. Although carotenoid research has been conducted in many vertebrates, little research has been done in amphibians, a group that is experiencing global population declines from numerous causes, including disease. We raised two amphibian species through metamorphosis on three carotenoid diets to quantify the effects on life-history traits and post-metamorphic susceptibility to a fungal pathogen (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis; Bd). Increased carotenoids had no effect on survival to metamorphosis in gray treefrogs (Hyla versicolor) but caused lower survival to metamorphosis in wood frogs [Lithobates sylvaticus (Rana sylvatica)]. Increased carotenoids caused both species to experience slower development and growth. When exposed to Bd after metamorphosis, wood frogs experienced high mortality, and the carotenoid diets had no mitigating effects. Gray treefrogs were less susceptible to Bd, which prevented an assessment of whether carotenoids could mitigate the effects of Bd. Moreover, carotenoids had no effect on pathogen load. As one of only a few studies examining the effects of carotenoids on amphibians and the first to examine potential interactions with Bd, our results suggest that carotenoids do not always serve amphibians in the many positive ways that have become the paradigm in other vertebrates.
Project description:Emerging infectious disease is a growing threat to global health, and recent discoveries reveal that the microbiota dwelling on and within hosts can play an important role in health and disease. To understand the capacity of skin bacteria to protect amphibian hosts from the fungal disease chytridiomycosis caused by Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), we isolated 192 bacterial morphotypes from the skin of 28 host species of frogs (families Bufonidae, Centrolenidae, Hemiphractidae, Hylidae, Leptodactylidae, Strabomantidae, and Telmatobiidae) collected from the eastern slopes of the Peruvian Andes (540-3,865 m a.s.l.) in the Kosñipata Valley near Manu National Park, a site where we previously documented the collapse of montane frog communities following chytridiomycosis epizootics. We obtained isolates through agar culture from skin swabs of wild frogs, and identified bacterial isolates by comparing 16S rRNA sequences against the GenBank database using BLAST. We identified 178 bacterial strains of 38 genera, including 59 bacterial species not previously reported from any amphibian host. The most common bacterial isolates were species of Pseudomonas, Paenibacillus, Chryseobacterium, Comamonas, Sphingobacterium, and Stenotrophomonas. We assayed the anti-fungal abilities of 133 bacterial isolates from 26 frog species. To test whether cutaneous bacteria might inhibit growth of the fungal pathogen, we used a local Bd strain isolated from the mouthparts of stream-dwelling tadpoles (Hypsiboas gladiator, Hylidae). We quantified Bd-inhibition in vitro with co-culture assays. We found 20 bacterial isolates that inhibited Bd growth, including three isolates not previously known for such inhibitory abilities. Anti-Bd isolates occurred on aquatic and terrestrial breeding frogs across a wide range of elevations (560-3,695 m a.s.l.). The inhibitory ability of anti-Bd isolates varied considerably. The proportion of anti-Bd isolates was lowest at mid-elevations (6%), where amphibian declines have been steepest, and among hosts that are highly susceptible to chytridiomycosis (0-14%). Among non-susceptible species, two had the highest proportion of anti-Bd isolates (40 and 45%), but one common and non-susceptible species had a low proportion (13%). In conclusion, we show that anti-Bd bacteria are widely distributed elevationally and phylogenetically across frog species that have persisted in a region where chytridiomycosis emerged, caused a devastating epizootic and continues to infect amphibians.
Project description:Symbiotic microbial communities play key roles in the health and development of their multicellular hosts. Understanding why microbial communities vary among different host species or individuals is an important step toward understanding the diversity and function of the microbiome. The amphibian skin microbiome may affect resistance to the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). Still, the factors that determine the diversity and composition of the amphibian skin microbiome, and therefore may ultimately contribute to disease resistance, are not well understood. We conducted a two-phase experiment to first test how host and environment shape the amphibian skin microbiome, and then test if the microbiome affects or is affected by Bd infection. Most lab experiments testing assembly of the amphibian skin microbiome so far have compared sterile to non-sterile environments or heavily augmented to non-augmented frogs. A goal of this study was to evaluate, in an experimental setting, realistic potential drivers of microbiome assembly that would be relevant to patterns observed in nature. We tested effects of frog genetic background (2 source populations) and 6 natural lake water sources in shaping the microbiome of the frog Rana sierrae. Water in which frogs were housed affected the microbiome in a manner that partially mimicked patterns observed in natural populations. In particular, frogs housed in water from disease-resistant populations had greater bacterial richness than frogs housed in water from populations that died out due to Bd. However, in the experiment this difference in microbiomes did not lead to differences in host mortality or rates of pathogen load increase. Frog source population also affected the microbiome and, although none of the frogs in this study showed true resistance to infection, host source population had a small effect on the rate of pathogen load increase. This difference in infection trajectories could be due to the observed differences in the microbiome, but could also be due to other traits that differ between frogs from the two populations. In addition to examining effects of the microbiome on Bd, we tested the effect of Bd infection severity on the microbiome. Specifically, we studied a time series of the microbiome over the course of infection to test if the effects of Bd on the microbiome are dependent on Bd infection severity. Although limited to a small subset of frogs, time series analysis suggested that relative abundances of several bacterial phylotypes changed as Bd loads increased through time, indicating that Bd-induced disturbance of the R. sierrae microbiome is not a binary effect but instead is dependent on infection severity. We conclude that both host and aquatic environment help shape the R. sierrae skin microbiome, with links to small changes in disease resistance in some cases, but in this study the effect of Bd on the microbiome was greater than the effect of the microbiome on Bd. Assessment of the microbiome differences between more distantly related populations than those studied here is needed to fully understand the role of the microbiome in resistance to Bd.