Project Director

Wilson, Thomas P.

Department Examiner

Barbosa, Jose M.; Carver, Ethan A.


Dept. of Biological and Environmental Sciences


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


Chytridiomycosis is an infectious, fungal disease largely seen in amphibians, which is caused by the highly virulent, zoosporic, pathogenic, single-celled fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). It is known to cause epidermal hyperplasia, hyperkeratosis, skin ulcerations, and fatalities by asystolic cardiac arrest either from shifts in electrolytes or increased acidity in the blood plasma. Previous research has demonstrated that urban water bodies have a higher prevalence of chytrid fungus than rural water bodies. Researchers have also found that chytrid is more prevalent in open canopy habitats than closed canopy habitats. Furthermore, it is implicated in global population declines and local extinctions in which one-third of extant amphibian species are currently threatened with extinction. This suggests that there is a need for further research into the prevalence of Bd and the environmental conditions in which it thrives. I sampled 72 amphibians from four urban and four rural watercourses situated in Davidson and Sumner County in Middle Tennessee. All of the 72 captured amphibians were swabbed for the presence of Bd. DNA was extracted using Qiagen DNeasy Blood and Tissue Kits and assayed by PCR in triplicate. Four of out of the 72 sampled amphibians tested positive for the presence of Bd. This project provides empirical evidence for the presence of Bd in Middle Tennessee, which will aid wildlife and land managers in making adaptive conservation decisions that will better protect amphibians in this region from the foremost threat to amphibian diversity.


I conducted this research as a part of an honors thesis requirement in the Honors College and the Department of Biology, Geology, and Environmental Sciences at UTC. The Provost Student Research Award provided funding for this project. It is a wonderful program that enabled an undergraduate student like me to conduct an independent scientific research project. I would like to extend thanks to Dr. Jose Barbosa, who provided me with my first year of experience in a laboratory and also provided materials and guidance whenever called upon. Additionally, thank you to Dr. Ethan Carver for his laboratory space, materials, and endless help with troubleshooting. Also, a special thank you to Dr. Thomas P. Wilson who enabled this project to happen and provided special expertise on the field portion of the research and analysis. He is an ideal research advisor, and anyone would be lucky to work with him. Finally, thank you to Team Salamander with special gratitude to Paul-Erik Bakland, Nyssa Hunt, Macall Nabors, and Erin Schrenker for logistical support and encouragement.

IACUC Number



B. S.; An honors thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Bachelor of Science.




Chytridiomycosis; Amphibians -- Diseases


Chytridiomycosis; Amphibians; Prevalence; Canopy density; Chytrid fungus; Middle Tennessee


Environmental Sciences

Document Type



91 leaves