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Pathogenic lineage of Perkinsea associated with mass mortality of frogs across the United States

September 8, 2017

Emerging infectious diseases such as chytridiomycosis and ranavirus infections are important contributors to the worldwide decline of amphibian populations. We reviewed data on 247 anuran mortality events in 43 States of the United States from 1999–2015. Our findings suggest that a severe infectious disease of tadpoles caused by a protist belonging to the phylum Perkinsea might represent the third most common infectious disease of anurans after ranavirus infections and chytridiomycosis. Severe Perkinsea infections (SPI) were systemic and led to multiorganic failure and death. The SPI mortality events affected numerous anuran species and occurred over a broad geographic area, from boreal to subtropical habitats. Livers from all PCR-tested SPI-tadpoles (n = 19) were positive for the Novel Alveolate Group 01 (NAG01) of Perkinsea, while only 2.5% histologically normal tadpole livers tested positive (2/81), suggesting that subclinical infections are uncommon. Phylogenetic analysis demonstrated that SPI is associated with a phylogenetically distinct clade of NAG01 Perkinsea. These data suggest that this virulent Perkinsea clade is an important pathogen of frogs in the United States. Given its association with mortality events and tendency to be overlooked, the potential role of this emerging pathogen in amphibian declines on a broad geographic scale warrants further investigation.

Publication Year 2017
Title Pathogenic lineage of Perkinsea associated with mass mortality of frogs across the United States
DOI 10.1038/s41598-017-10456-1
Authors Marcos Isidoro Ayza, Jeffrey M. Lorch, Daniel A. Grear, Megan Winzeler, Daniel L. Calhoun, William J. Barichivich
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Scientific Reports
Index ID 70190575
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Wetland and Aquatic Research Center