Graduation Year

2019

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Physical and Biological Sciences

Faculty Advisor

Karolina Fučíková

Abstract

Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) is the etiological agent of chytridiomycosis, a fungal disease that some experts believe will lead to the extinction of nearly half of the amphibian species on this planet. Limited research has been conducted on chytridiomycosis in the Northeast United States, and most of it has primarily focused on examining Bd in different species of amphibians. In this study, we examine the presence of Bd in one species, Lithobates catesbeianus, the American Bullfrog, which has natural resistance to the pathogenic effect of Bd. Examining different regions of the country, age of L. catesbeianus, and season may help scientists determine if environmental factors and developmental factors contribute to the spread of chytridiomycosis. This research project studied the prevalence of Bd in American bullfrog tadpoles at three locations in Central Massachusetts and examined if there is seasonal and spatial variation between Bd infection in the tadpoles. Tadpoles were swabbed during May and September 2018 and the swabs were analyzed using quantitative PCR. Positive samples were found in all three locations. Out of 136 samples, 33 were positive for Bd (24.3%). Twenty-six positive samples were collected during the Spring, and 7 were collected in the Fall. The variation in the density of tadpoles could lead to the significant difference between Bd prevalence in the Spring versus the Fall. Seasonal temperatures and the lifecycle of Bd could also have played a role in the variation and could be more specifically accounted for in future studies.

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Life Sciences Commons

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