Effects of chytridiomycosis on hematopoietic tissue in the spleen, kidney and bone marrow in three diverse amphibian species

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One of the major causes of amphibian population decline is the deadly fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, Bd. Research on pathogenesis and host immunity aims to inform development of targeted conservation interventions. Studies examining global host immune responses as well as effects on lymphocytes in vitro suggest that Bd infection causes immunosuppression. However, it is unknown which hematopoietic tissues are affected and if these effects differ among host species. We investigated the effect of experimental Bd infection on three diverse amphibian species by quantifying the amount of hematopoietic tissue in the spleen, bone marrow and kidney. Upon Bd infection, hematopoietic tissue in the kidney tended to be depleted, while the spleen appeared unaffected. The bone marrow in highly susceptible species was depleted, whereas an increase in hematopoietic tissue was observed in the more resistant species. Our study demonstrates that species and hematopoietic tissues behave differently in response to Bd infection, and may be related to the species’ susceptibility to infection.

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