Co-exposure to multiple ranavirus types enhances viral infectivity and replication in a larval amphibian system

Joseph R. Mihaljevic, Jason T. Hoverman, Pieter T.J. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Multiple pathogens commonly co-occur in animal populations, yet few studies demonstrate how co-exposure of individual hosts scales up to affect transmission. Although viruses in the genus Ranavirus are globally widespread, and multiple virus species or strains likely co-occur in nature, no studies have examined how co-exposure affects infection dynamics in larval amphibians. We exposed individual northern red-legged frog Rana aurora larvae to 2 species of ranavirus, namely Ambystoma tigrinum virus (ATV), frog virus 3 (FV3), or an FV3-like strain isolated from a frog-culturing facility in Georgia, USA (RCV-Z2). We compared single-virus to pairwise co-exposures while experimentally accounting for dosage. Co-exposure to ATV and FV3-like strains resulted in almost twice as many infected individuals compared to single-virus exposures, suggesting an effect of co-exposure on viral infectivity. The viral load in infected individuals exposed to ATV and FV3 was also higher than the single-dose FV3 treatment, suggesting an effect of co-exposure on viral replication. In a follow-up experiment, we examined how the co-occurrence of ATV and FV3 affected epizootics in mesocosm populations of larval western chorus frogs Pseudacris triseriata. Although ATV did not generally establish within host populations (<4% prevalence), when ATV and FV3 were both present, this co-exposure resulted in a larger epizootic of FV3. Our results emphasize the importance of multi-pathogen interactions in epizootic dynamics and have management implications for natural and commercial amphibian populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-35
Number of pages13
JournalDiseases of Aquatic Organisms
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Ambystoma tigrinum virus
  • Bayesian
  • Epizootic
  • Experimental
  • Frog virus 3
  • Pseudacris triseriata
  • Rana aurora
  • Transmission

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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