Xenopus laevis and Emerging Amphibian Pathogens in Chile

Claudio Soto-Azat, Alexandra Peñafiel-Ricaurte, Stephen J. Price, Nicole Sallaberry-Pincheira, María Pía García, Mario Alvarado-Rybak, Andrew A. Cunningham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Amphibians face an extinction crisis with no precedence. Two emerging infectious diseases, ranaviral disease caused by viruses within the genus Ranavirus and chytridiomycosis due to Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), have been linked with amphibian mass mortalities and population declines in many regions of the globe. The African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis) has been indicated as a vector for the spread of these pathogens. Since the 1970s, this species has been invasive in central Chile. We collected X. laevis and dead native amphibians in Chile between 2011 and 2013. We conducted post-mortem examinations and molecular tests for Ranavirus and Bd. Eight of 187 individuals (4.3 %) tested positive for Ranavirus: seven X. laevis and a giant Chilean frog (Calyptocephallela gayi). All positive cases were from the original area of X. laevis invasion. Bd was found to be more prevalent (14.4 %) and widespread than Ranavirus, and all X. laevis Bd-positive animals presented low to moderate levels of infection. Sequencing of a partial Ranavirus gene revealed 100 % sequence identity with Frog Virus 3. This is the first report of Ranavirus in Chile, and these preliminary results are consistent with a role for X. laevis as an infection reservoir for both Ranavirus and Bd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)775-783
Number of pages9
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016


  • Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis
  • Chile
  • Emerging infectious diseases
  • Ranavirus
  • Reservoir
  • Xenopus laevis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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