An eDNA toolkit for the surveillance of wildlife pathogens in traded and wild amphibians

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Genetics Evolution and Environment


Emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) represent a major threat to amphibian species globally and have caused extensive population declines and extinctions. Declines have been attributed to two types of infectious disease: ranavirosis (caused by viruses in the genus Ranavirus) and chytridiomycosis (caused by infection with chytrid fungi Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis and Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans). These pathogens are widespread in the global amphibian trade. The absence of effective pathogen surveillance in this setting contributes to a catastrophic risk of subsequent pathogen incursion into wild populations. Diagnostic tools used in the early detection of EIDs are essential in developing effective strategies to mitigate disease spread. Tools facilitating the detection of pathogens in traded and wild subclinical populations are vital in the early management of diseased populations. The student will design and develop a diagnostic eDNA toolkit for the surveillance of Bd, Bsal and Ranavirus in traded and wild populations. Using eDNA methods, the proposed work will: 1) empirically assess the factors affecting the detection of pathogen eDNA; 2) investigate the prevalence of pathogens in traded amphibians in the UK; 3) investigate the potential environmental and host reservoirs of amphibian pathogens in the wild. Metabarcoding eDNA primers will be used to investigate community composition and potential associations between pathogens and reservoir species.


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