Abstract

Two species of parasitic fungi from the phylum Chytridiomycota (chytrids) are annihilating global amphibian populations. These chytrid species-Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis and B. salamandrivorans-have high rates of mortality and transmission. Upon establishing infection in amphibians, chytrids rapidly multiply within the skin and disrupt their hosts' vital homeostasis mechanisms. Current disease models suggest that chytrid fungi locate and infect their hosts during a motile, unicellular 'zoospore' life stage. Moreover, other chytrid species parasitize organisms from across the tree of life, making future epidemics in new hosts a likely possibility. Efforts to mitigate the damage and spread of chytrid disease have been stymied by the lack of knowledge about basic chytrid biology and tools with which to test molecular hypotheses about disease mechanisms. To overcome this bottleneck, we have developed high-efficiency delivery of molecular payloads into chytrid zoospores using electroporation. Our electroporation protocols result in payload delivery to between 75-97% of living cells of three species: B. dendrobatidis, B. salamandrivorans, and a non-pathogenic relative, S. punctatus. This method lays the foundation for molecular genetic tools needed to establish ecological mitigation strategies and answer broader questions in evolutionary and cell biology.

Competing Interest Statement

The authors have declared no competing interest.



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