Dramatic global declines in amphibians have been linked to the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, but some species are more vulnerable than others. In the latest issue of G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics, as part of the GSA Journals’ Genetics of Immunity collection, Ellison et al. examined the transcriptome of the highly susceptible Panama Golden Frog after exposure to the fungus.

The results showed rigorous innate and acquired immune gene expression, but they also showed indications of immunosuppression. Compared to naïve-infected individuals, previously-infected frogs showed significant increases in expression of fungal-killing genes like chitinase. The authors conclude that susceptibility is not necessarily due to a lack of immune response but a failure of those responses to be effective.

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Ellison A.R., G. V. DiRenzo, P. Langhammer, K. R. Lips & K. R. Zamudio (2014). Fighting a Losing Battle: Vigorous Immune Response Countered by Pathogen Suppression of Host Defenses in the Chytridiomycosis-Susceptible Frog Atelopus zeteki, G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics, 4 (7) 1275-1289. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1534/g3.114.010744

Cristy Gelling is a science writer, lapsed yeast geneticist, and former Communications Director at the GSA.

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