Bielby, J., Fisher, M.C.,Clare, F.C., Rosa, G.M. & Garner, T.W.J. (2015) Host species vary in infection probability, sub-lethal effects, and costs of immune response when exposed to an amphibian parasite.Scientific Reports, 5, 10828. DOI:10.1038/srep10828 (IF2015 5,228; Q1 Multidisciplinary Sciences)
The amphibian parasite Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) is regarded as an extreme generalist, infecting over 500 species, but amongst these hosts there exists a great deal of variation in the susceptibility to and the costs of parasite exposure. We use two infection experiments to determine whether inter-specific variation in the sublethal and lethal effects of parasite exposure exist in two host species. We then tested the relative roles of host density and diversity on infection probability of a focal susceptible host. Our results show significant heterogeneity in host species response to parasite exposure, and that both lethal and sub-lethal costs exist in individuals that are able to resist infection, indicating that successful immune response to infection comes at a cost. Further, we show that increasing host density significantly increased the likelihood of susceptible individuals becoming infected with Bd irrespective of host diversity and variation in host susceptibility. These results suggest that populations of resistant species are likely to suffer ill-effects of exposure to Bdregardless of their infection status, and that at the stage of initial infection there was no support for the dilution of transmission events, in contrast to other studies that focus on subsequent transmission of infection.