Current Event- Chytridiomycosis in amphibians

Batrochochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) is a fungus that is decimating amphibian populations all over the world. It’s thought that the fungus was initially found on Xenopus laevis, a popular lab frog, and when it was traded worldwide the fungus was spread as well.

Bd has a life stage completely dedicated to water, subsequently, tadpoles are affected at the highest rates. The Bd doesn’t kill the tadpoles immediately, but decreases their probability of survival and uses them as a vector to spread to other amphibians: tadpoles and frogs. A group of scientists have set out to help 30 species of frogs in Honduras, 14 of which are endangered. Their plan is to collect as many individuals as possible and either treat them for Bd or raise them to adult frogs that are less susceptible to the fungus.
As far as treating the disease goes, Bd thrives in moist, cool temperatures, so they plan to “heat” the frogs up as much as the frogs can stand. Another method is to use anti-fungal treatments, but these tend to be harsh on the frog’s very thin skin.

Ultimately, the frogs need to develop strong defenses against the pathogenic fungus, or we could end up losing a majority of our amphibian populations; especially those that have a tendency for moist, cool climates. More than 200 frog populations have been negatively impacted so far. More information can be found here.

Picture of a mossy red-eyed frog One of the 30 species native to Honduras that this group plans to protect.

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