Comparative host–pathogen associations of Snake Fungal Disease in sympatric species of water snakes (Nerodia)

Stephen F. Harding, C. Guilherme Becker, Jessica R. Yates, Paul Crump, Michael R.J. Forstner, Stephen J. Mullin, David Rodriguez

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6 Scopus citations


The ascomycete fungus Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola (Oo) is the causative agent of ophidiomycosis (Snake Fungal Disease), which has been detected globally. However, surveillance efforts in the central U.S., specifically Texas, have been minimal. The threatened and rare Brazos water snake (Nerodia harteri harteri) is one of the most range restricted snakes in the U.S. and is sympatric with two wide-ranging congeners, Nerodiaerythrogaster transversa and Nerodiarhombifer, in north central Texas; thus, providing an opportunity to test comparative host–pathogen associations in this system. To accomplish this, we surveyed a portion of the Brazos river drainage (~ 400 river km) over 29 months and tested 150 Nerodia individuals for the presence of Oo via quantitative PCR and recorded any potential signs of Oo infection. We found Oo was distributed across the entire range of N. h. harteri, Oo prevalence was 46% overall, and there was a significant association between Oo occurrence and signs of infection in our sample. Models indicated adults had a higher probability of Oo infection than juveniles and subadults, and adult N. h. harteri had a higher probability of infection than adult N. rhombifer but not higher than adult N. e. transversa. High Oo prevalence estimates (94.4%) in adult N. h. harteri has implications for their conservation and management owing to their patchy distribution, comparatively low genetic diversity, and threats from anthropogenic habitat modification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number12303
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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