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Challenging a host-pathogen paradigm: Susceptibility to chytridiomycosis is decoupled from genetic erosion

Smith, Donal; O'Brien, David; Hall, Jeanette; Sergeant, Chris; Brookes, Lola M; Harrison, Xavier A; Garner, Trenton; (2022) Challenging a host-pathogen paradigm: Susceptibility to chytridiomycosis is decoupled from genetic erosion. Journal of Evolutionary Biology , 35 (4) pp. 589-598. 10.1111/jeb.13987. Green open access

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Abstract

The putatively positive association between host genetic diversity and the ability to defend against pathogens has long attracted the attention of evolutionary biologists. Chytridiomycosis, a disease caused by the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), has emerged in recent decades as a cause of dramatic declines and extinctions across the amphibian clade. Bd susceptibility can vary widely across populations of the same species, but the relationship between standing genetic diversity and susceptibility has remained notably underexplored so far. Here, we focus on a putatively Bd-naive system of two mainland and two island populations of the common toad (Bufo bufo) at the edge of the species’ range and use controlled infection experiments and dd-RAD sequencing of >10 000 SNPs across 95 individuals to characterize the role of host population identity, genetic variation and individual body mass in mediating host response to the pathogen. We found strong genetic differentiation between populations and marked variation in their susceptibility to Bd. This variation was not, however, governed by isolation-mediated genetic erosion, and individual heterozygosity was even found to be negatively correlated with survival. Individual survival during infection experiments was strongly positively related to body mass, which itself was unrelated to population of origin or heterozygosity. Our findings underscore the general importance of context-dependency when assessing the role of host genetic variation for the ability of defence against pathogens.

Type: Article
Title: Challenging a host-pathogen paradigm: Susceptibility to chytridiomycosis is decoupled from genetic erosion
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/jeb.13987
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1111/jeb.13987
Language: English
Additional information: © 2022 The Authors. Journal of Evolutionary Biology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of European Society for Evolutionary Biology This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: amphibians, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, Bufo bufo, population fragmentation, SNPs
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10143450
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