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Only skin deep: shared genetic response to the deadly chytrid fungus in susceptible frog species

Authors

  • ERICA BREE ROSENBLUM,

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844, USA
    2. Initiative for Bioinformatics and Evolutionary Studies (IBEST), University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844, USA
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    • Present address: Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.

  • THOMAS J. POORTEN,

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844, USA
    2. Initiative for Bioinformatics and Evolutionary Studies (IBEST), University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844, USA
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  • MATTHEW SETTLES,

    1. Initiative for Bioinformatics and Evolutionary Studies (IBEST), University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844, USA
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  • GORDON K. MURDOCH

    1. Initiative for Bioinformatics and Evolutionary Studies (IBEST), University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844, USA
    2. Department of Animal and Veterinary Science, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844, USA
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Erica Bree Rosenblum, Fax: 510-643-5438; E-mail: rosenblum@berkeley.edu

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 do different host species have a similar response to Bd infection? 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 analyse whole genome expression profiles from frogs in controlled Bd infection experiments. We integrate the Rana results with a comparable data set 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.

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