Killer fungus threatening amphibians

Nov 23, 2009
This is a giant African bullfrog (Pyxicephalus adspersus). Credit: Matthew Fisher

Amphibians like frogs and toads have existed for 360 million years and survived when the dinosaurs didn't, but a new aquatic fungus is threatening to make many of them extinct, according to an article in the November issue of Microbiology Today.

The , Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), was found to be associated with waves of amphibian extinctions in Central America and north-eastern Australia in the 1990's. Bd infects over 350 amphibian species by penetrating their skin, but little else is known about where it came from and how it causes disease.

The earliest published record of Bd is from a specimen of an African clawed frog in 1938 from South Africa. Around this time there was a huge trade in clawed when they were used in one of the earliest human pregnancy tests. The global exportation of the clawed frog is likely to have spread Bd around the world. The infection is spread by fungal spores released into the water supply from imported infected animals.

Researchers are trying different approaches to treat existing Bd infection. Some are treating tadpoles with antifungal drugs, whilst more innovative approaches involve introducing 'probiotic' bacteria that naturally secrete antifungal compounds which kill Bd on amphibians' skin. To help limit the spread of , the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) now recommends screening imported amphibians for presence of Bd.

Source: Society for General Microbiology

Explore further: Endangered clouded leopard kittens born in Miami zoo

Related Stories

Amphibians may develop immunity to fatal fungus

Apr 01, 2009

Amphibian populations are declining worldwide, principally because of the spread of the fungal disease chytridiomycosis. Researchers know that some amphibian populations and species are innately more susceptible to the disease ...

Modern genetics vs. ancient frog-killing fungus

Oct 14, 2008

Scientists at the University of Idaho currently are involved in a CSI-like investigation of a killer known to have been running rampant for the past decade. But the killer's name can't be found on the FBI's Most Wanted list. ...

Recommended for you

Ants in space find it tougher going than those on Earth

1 hour ago

(Phys.org)—The results of a study conducted to see how well ants carry out their search activities in space are in, and the team that sent them there has written and published the results in the journal ...

Rats found able to recognize pain in other rat faces

1 hour ago

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers working in Japan with affiliations to several institutions in that country, has found that lab rats are able to recognize pain in the faces of other rats and avoid them ...

Isotope study shows which urban ants love junk food

13 hours ago

Research from North Carolina State University finds that some - but not all - of the ant species on the streets of Manhattan have developed a taste for human food, offering insight into why certain ants are ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.