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The things they carried: The pathogenic effects of old and new parasites following the intercontinental invasion of the Australian cane toad (Rhinella marina)
- Selechnik, D., Rollins, L.A., Brown, G.P., Kelehear, C., Shine, R.
- International journal for parasitology 2017 v.6 no.3 pp. 375-385
- Bufo marinus, Ochrobactrum anthropi, arthritis, coevolution, hosts, immune system, lungworms, parasite load, pathogens, soil bacteria, toads, Australia
- Brought to Australia in 1935 to control agricultural pests (from French Guiana, via Martinique, Barbados, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and Hawai'i), repeated stepwise translocations of small numbers of founders enabled the cane toad (Rhinella marina) to escape many parasites and pathogens from its native range. However, the infective organisms that survived the journey continue to affect the dynamics of the toad in its new environment. In Australia, the native-range lungworm Rhabdias pseudosphaerocephala decreases its host's cardiac capacity, as well as growth and survival, but not rate of dispersal. The lungworm is most prevalent in long-colonised areas within the toads' Australian range, and absent from the invasion front. Several parasites and pathogens of Australian taxa have host-shifted to cane toads in Australia; for example, invasion-front toads are susceptible to spinal arthritis caused by the soil bacterium, Ochrobactrum anthropi. The pentastome Raillietiella frenata has host-shifted to toads and may thereby expand its Australian range due to the continued range expansion of the invasive toads. Spill-over and spill-back of parasites may be detrimental to other host species; however, toads may also reduce parasite loads in native taxa by acting as terminal hosts. We review the impact of the toad's parasites and pathogens on the invasive anuran's biology in Australia, as well as collateral effects of toad-borne parasites and pathogens on other host species in Australia. Both novel and co-evolved pathogens and parasites may have played significant roles in shaping the rapid evolution of immune system responses in cane toads within their invaded range.