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Implications of national and international bullfrog trade in spread and tolerance acquired to chytrid fungus and conservation measures of anurans

Grant number: 18/23622-0
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): July 01, 2019
Effective date (End): July 31, 2022
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology
Principal Investigator:Luis Felipe de Toledo Ramos Pereira
Grantee:Luisa de Pontes Ribeiro
Home Institution: Instituto de Biologia (IB). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:16/25358-3 - The chytrid fungus: from its origins to its consequences, AP.TEM

Abstract

Global biodiversity has been suffering a worrying reduction at all levels, and measures and actions aimed at species conservation have become essential. Currently, amphibians represent the most endangered vertebrate group, with one of the main threats being Chytridiomycosis, an emerging infectious disease caused by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). Bd is a flagellated pathogen that is efficient in its transmission, either by water or contact between individuals. The development of the disease compromises osmoregulatory, electrolytic and cardiac functions, which can lead to death. The fungus may also produce toxins that interfere with the immune responses of the host, although the physiological effects are still poorly studied. In addition, different hosts present distinct immunological and physiological responses to infection. The Bullfrog, Lithobates catesbeianus, is a species tolerant to Chytridiomycosis and can act as reservoir and vector of the pathogen. This species is marketed for human consumption, and its growing world trade has made the Bullfrog one of the world's main invasive species, negatively affecting native anurofauna. Due to the fact that Bullfrog farms present high prevalence of fungus and that trade is global, this species also acts as an international vector of the pathogen. In addition to acting as a reservoir and vector of Bd, it is possible that this species, and its intensive production, also act as a fungus supershedder for natural environments. The lack of information on the production of Bullfrogs as well as biosafety protocols on the infrastructure and commercialization raise concerns about possible negative impacts on native species. Thus, we must understand the role of this species and its mass production in the dissemination of Bd. Therefore, we aim to map the Bullfrog farms of Brazil, to trace their routes of national and international trade; to construct a phylogeny of the different strains found in this trade through sequencing; understand the mechanisms of tolerance of this species and test the possible role of the Bullfrog as Bd supershedder. Finally, we intend to hold workshops with important groups of Brazilian society showing the problem of lack of regulation and execute the manuals of good practices and biosafety, in addition to proposals for regulation and inspection of the production and trade of this species, aiming at the conservation of native anurofauna throughout the world. (AU)