Carter ED, Bletz MC, Le Sage M, LaBumbard B, Rollins-Smith LA, Woodhams DC, Miller DL, Gray MJ. Winter is coming-Temperature affects immune defenses and susceptibility to Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans. PLoS pathogens. 2021 Feb;17(17). e1009234. PMID: 33600433 [PubMed] PMCID: PMC7891748
Environmental temperature is a key factor driving various biological processes, including immune defenses and host-pathogen interactions. Here, we evaluated the effects of environmental temperature on the pathogenicity of the emerging fungal pathogen, Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal), using controlled laboratory experiments, and measured components of host immune defense to identify regulating mechanisms. We found that adult and juvenile Notophthalmus viridescens died faster due to Bsal chytridiomycosis at 14°C than at 6 and 22°C. Pathogen replication rates, total available proteins on the skin, and microbiome composition likely drove these relationships. Temperature-dependent skin microbiome composition in our laboratory experiments matched seasonal trends in wild N. viridescens, adding validity to these results. We also found that hydrophobic peptide production after two months post-exposure to Bsal was reduced in infected animals compared to controls, perhaps due to peptide release earlier in infection or impaired granular gland function in diseased animals. Using our temperature-dependent susceptibility results, we performed a geographic analysis that revealed N. viridescens populations in the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada are at greatest risk for Bsal invasion, which shifted risk north compared to previous assessments. Our results indicate that environmental temperature will play a key role in the epidemiology of Bsal and provide evidence that temperature manipulations may be a viable disease management strategy.