Across host–parasite systems, there is evidence that pesticide exposure increases parasite loads and mortality following infection. However, whether these effects are driven by reductions in host resistance to infection or slower rates of parasite clearance is often unclear. Using controlled laboratory experiments, we examined the ability of larval northern leopard frogs (Lithobates pipiens) and American toads (Anaxyrus americanus) to resist and clear trematode (Echinoparyphium sp.) infections following exposure to the insecticide carbaryl. Northern leopard frogs exposed to 1 mg/L of carbaryl had 61% higher parasite loads compared with unexposed individuals, while there was no immediate effect of carbaryl on parasite encystment in American toads. However, when tadpoles were exposed to carbaryl and moved to freshwater for 14 days before the parasite challenge, we recovered 37 and 63% more parasites from carbaryl-exposed northern leopard frogs and American toads, respectively, compared with the control. No effects on clearance were found for either species. Collectively, our results suggest that pesticide exposure can reduce the ability of amphibians to resist parasite infections and that these effects can persist weeks following exposure.
Source: Pochini KM and Hoverman JT (2017). Parasitology 144: 817-822