Chytrid fungus infection in zebrafish demonstrates that the pathogen can parasitize non-amphibian vertebrate hosts.
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Aquatic chytrid fungi threaten amphibian biodiversity worldwide owing to their ability to rapidly expand their geographical distributions and to infect a wide range of hosts. Combating this risk requires an understanding of chytrid host range to identify potential reservoirs of infection and to safeguard uninfected regions through enhanced biosecurity. Here we extend our knowledge on the host range of the chytrid Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis by demonstrating infection of a non-amphibian vertebrate host, the zebrafish. We observe dose-dependent mortality and show that chytrid can infect and proliferate on zebrafish tissue. We also show that infection phenotypes (fin erosion, cell apoptosis and muscle degeneration) are direct symptoms of infection. Successful infection is dependent on disrupting the zebrafish microbiome, highlighting that, as is widely found in amphibians, commensal bacteria confer protection against this pathogen. Collectively, our findings greatly expand the limited tool kit available to study pathogenesis and host response to chytrid infection.
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