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  • 1
    Publication Date: 2018-07-05
    Description: Pathogens entering the marine environment as pollutants exhibit a spatial signature driven by their transport mechanisms. The sea otter ( Enhydra lutris ), a marine animal which lives much of its life within sight of land, presents a unique opportunity to understand land–sea pathogen transmission. Using a dataset on Toxoplasma gondii prevalence across sea otter range from Alaska to California, we found that the dominant drivers of infection risk vary depending upon the spatial scale of analysis. At the population level, regions with high T. gondii prevalence had higher human population density and a greater proportion of human-dominated land uses, suggesting a strong role for population density of the felid definitive host of this parasite. This relationship persisted when a subset of data were analysed at the individual level: large-scale patterns in sea otter T. gondii infection prevalence were largely explained by individual exposure to areas of high human housing unit density, and other landscape features associated with anthropogenic land use, such as impervious surfaces and cropping land. These results contrast with the small-scale, within-region analysis, in which age, sex and prey choice accounted for most of the variation in infection risk, and terrestrial environmental features provided little variation to help in explaining observed patterns. These results underscore the importance of spatial scale in study design when quantifying both individual-level risk factors and landscape-scale variation in infection risk.
    Keywords: ecology, health and disease and epidemiology
    Electronic ISSN: 2054-5703
    Topics: Natural Sciences in General
    Published by Royal Society
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  • 2
    Publication Date: 2018-03-06
    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.
    Keywords: genomics, ecology, environmental science
    Electronic ISSN: 2054-5703
    Topics: Natural Sciences in General
    Published by Royal Society
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