Habitat fragmentation in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest is associated with erosion of frog immunogenetic diversity and increased fungal infections

Anat M. Belasen, Kevin R. Amses, Rebecca A. Clemons, C. Guilherme Becker, L. Felipe Toledo, Timothy Y. James

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

Habitat fragmentation and infectious diseases threaten wildlife globally, but the interactions of these threats are poorly understood. For instance, while habitat fragmentation can impact genetic diversity at neutral loci, the impacts on disease-relevant loci are less well-studied. We examined the effects of habitat fragmentation in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest on amphibian genetic diversity at an immune locus related to antigen presentation and detection (MHC IIB Exon 2). We used a custom high-throughput assay to sequence a fragment of MHC IIB and quantified Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) infections in six frog species in two Atlantic Forest regions. Habitat fragmentation was associated with genetic erosion at MHC IIB Exon 2. This erosion was most severe in forest specialists. Significant Bd infections were detected only in one Atlantic Forest region, potentially due to relatively higher elevation. In this region, forest specialists showed an increase in both Bd prevalence and infection loads in fragmented habitats. Reduced population-level MHC IIB diversity was associated with increased Bd infection risk. On the individual level, MHC IIB heterozygotes exhibited a trend toward reduced Bd infection risk, although this was marginally non-significant. Our results suggest that habitat fragmentation increases Bd infection susceptibility in amphibians, mediated at least in part through erosion of immunogenetic diversity. Our findings have implications for management of fragmented populations in the face of emerging infectious diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)431-441
Number of pages11
JournalImmunogenetics
Volume74
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Immunology
  • Genetics

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