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Of poisons and parasites-the defensive role of tetrodotoxin against infections in newts.

Abstract

skin, negatively predicted overall parasite richness as well as the likelihood of infection by the chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, and ranavirus. No such effect was found on infection load among infected hosts. Despite commonly occurring at the same wetlands, T. torosa supported higher parasite richness and average infection load than T. granulosa. Host body size and sex (females > males) tended to positively predict infection levels in both species. For hosts in which we quantified leucocyte profiles, total white blood cell count correlated positively with both parasite richness and total infection load. By coupling data on host toxicity and infection by a broad range of micro- and macroparasites, these results suggest that-alongside its effects on predators-tetrodotoxin may help protect newts against parasitic infections, highlighting the importance of integrative research on animal chemistry, immunological defenses and natural enemy ecology.

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