Treatment of urodelans based on temperature dependent infection dynamics of Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans
The recently emerged chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans currently causes amphibian population declines. We hypothesized that temperature dictates infection dynamics of B. salamandrivorans,
and that therefore heat treatment may be applied to clear animals from
infection. We examined the impact of environmental temperature on B. salamandrivorans infection and disease dynamics in fire salamanders (Salamandra salamandra). Colonization of salamanders by B. salamandrivorans
occurred at 15°C and 20°C but not at 25°C, with a significantly faster
buildup of infection load and associated earlier mortality at 15°C.
Exposing B. salamandrivorans infected salamanders to 25°C for 10
days resulted in complete clearance of infection and clinically cured
all experimentally infected animals. This treatment protocol was
validated in naturally infected wild fire salamanders. In conclusion, we
show that B. salamandrivorans infection and disease dynamics are
significantly dictated by environmental temperature, and that heat
treatment is a viable option for clearing B. salamandrivorans infections.