Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Dr. Frederic Zaidan

Second Advisor

Dr. Kristine Lowe

Third Advisor

Dr. Erin Schuenzel


Emerging diseases such as Snake Fungal Disease (SFD) caused by the fungus Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola (Oo) have caused population declines in various snake species in the United States which play a crucial role in the ecosystem as a natural pest control. This fungus targets the scales as a medium to thrive on which can lead to facial disfiguration and respiratory infections. We examined snakes to see if SFD was present in the LRGV and if other fungal species pose a threat to the various snake species population. The data for this study consisted of 14 live snakes captured in the wild and released after being swabbed, 2 deceased snakes and 4 sheds. The swabs were then cultured and isolated and a total of 29 isolates were sent to MIDI Labs for 28S rRNA PCR assays. The DNA sequence report from MIDI Labs did not identify Oo as being present in any of the samples but other fungal species were present in 15 of the total isolates. Seeing that harsh cold snaps and high moisture levels are rare in the LRGV, this lowers the likelihood that snakes use communal dens to maintain thermoregulation; the typical infection route for Oo to find hosts and thrive. The newly discovered fungi may have implications for the agriculture industry and public health as snakes could serve as a possible vector.


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