Amphibian species face the growing threat of extinction due to the emerging fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, which causes the disease chytridiomycosis. Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) produced in granular glands of the skin are an important defense against this pathogen. Little is known about the ontogeny of AMP production or the impact of AMPs on potentially beneficial symbiotic skin bacteria. We show here that Rana (Lithobates) sphenocephala produces a mixture of four AMPs with activity against B. dendrobatidis, and we report the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) of synthesized replicates of these four AMPs tested against B. dendrobatidis. Using mass spectrometry and protein quantification assays, we observed that R. sphenocephala does not secrete a mature suite of AMPs until approximately 12 weeks post-metamorphosis, and geographically disparate populations produce a different suite of peptides. Use of norepinephrine to induce maximal secretion significantly reduced levels of culturable skin bacteria.
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