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Project: A central role for the fungal quorum sensing molecule tryptophol during the early stages of a Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis infection?

2019-01-01 – 2019-12-31

Abstract

Chytridiomycosis is a fungal skin disease that causes declines and extinctions in amphibians on a
global scale. B. dendrobatidis is one of the infectious agents and although the negative impact of
this pathogen on global diversity has been widely documented, the fundamentals of the hostpathogen
interactions are still underexplored. The early interactions of B. dendrobatidis are
described as attachment to (adhesion) and penetration in (invasion) amphibian skin. However, how
these events occur and what factors are involved are unknown. We recently discovered a quorum
sensing mechanism between B. dendrobatidis cells, through the secretion of tryptophol. This
metabolite increases the adhesion capacities of B. dendrobatidis in vitro and it is produced during
initial contact with a susceptible host. The production of tryptophol may thus play a role during the
early infection stages and could interfere with the pathogen’s ability to colonize the host. We here
study the role of tryptophol during the early infection steps of B. dendrobatidis. In a series of in vitro
and ex vivo experiments, we will optimize a qualitative and quantitative method to examine the
early pathogen-host interactions and we will examine to what extent tryptophol contributes to the
invasion and adhesion capacities of the fungus. The insights gained in this project will help
understanding fundamentals of the early host-pathogen interactions, which are necessary to open
new opportunities for disease mitigation.