Coqui frogs persist with the deadly chytrid fungus despite a lack of defensive antimicrobial peptides.


The amphibian skin fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) occurs widely in Puerto Rico and is thought to be responsible for the apparent extinction of 3 species of endemic frogs in the genus Eleutherodactylus, known as coquis. To examine immune defenses which may protect surviving species, we induced secretion of skin peptides from adult common coqui frogs E. coqui collected from upland forests at El Yunque. By matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometry, we were unable to detect peptide signals suggestive of antimicrobial peptides, and enriched peptides showed no capacity to inhibit growth of Bd. Thus, it appears that E. coqui depend on other skin defenses to survive in the presence of this deadly fungus.