Date of Award
Master of Science
Anurans are declining worldwide because of the spread of Batachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), the fungus that causes chytridiomycosis. However, some frogs are resistant to this disease, and understanding why may be critical to saving those that are susceptible. In Peru, Gastrotheca excubitor is resistant to chytridiomycosis while Gastrotheca nebulanastes is susceptible. Two anuran skin defenses, symbiotic bacteria and antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), have demonstrated the ability to inhibit Bd in vitro when isolated from certain frogs. We tested if these defenses can explain the difference in susceptibility between the two Gastrotheca species. The cutaneous bacteria and AMPs of both species were collected, tested for their abilities to inhibit the growth of Bd, and analyzed for their compositions. Results indicate that 34%of the strains of skin bacteria from G. excubitor were able to inhibit the growth of Bd whereas only 10% isolated from G. nebulanastes were effective. Gastrotheca excubitor also has stronger anti-Bd skin bacteria. Neither frog species has peptide mixtures capable of completely inhibiting Bd, and overall species did not differ in the anti-Bd abilities of their peptides. These results suggest that the chytridiomycosis resistance experienced by G. excubitor may be attributed to its skin bacteria.
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