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I earned my MS degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Michigan and my undergraduate degree in Environmental Sciences and a minor in Geography at the University of Puerto Rico- Rio Piedras Campus. Currrenly, I am working as the laboratory manager in the Microbial Systems Molecular Biology Laboratory at the University of Michigan.
For my MS thesis work, I studied the difference on virulence across the genotypes of a fungal pathogen called Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). Bd causes chytridiomycosis, a skin disease on amphibians, that has been associated with the global declines and extinctions of amphibians. In the Americas, Bd isolates belong to three genetically divergent lineages: Bd-GPL, Bd-Brazil and Bd-Hybrid, the latter of which appears to be a hybrid between Bd-Brazil and Bd-GPL genotypes. I examined the virulence of these Bd lineages on a single host (wood frog, Lithobates sylvaticus) by individually exposing larval hosts to isolates of the three lineages. I analyzed the effects of exposure to these Bd lineages, focusing on two major components of host health: (A) time to and size at metamorphosis, and (B) individual post-metamorphic survivorship. Our results showed that isolates of these three Bd lineages are pathogenic in wood frogs. Bd-Hybrid caused mortality earlier in post-metamorphic wood frogs than Bd-GPL. Future research should focus on the potential effects of these Bd lineages on other amphibian species, including native Brazilian hosts. Understanding the susceptibility of host species to genetically divergent Bd isolates is an important step for predicting future epidemics and implementing better conservation efforts for susceptible amphibian communities.
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