Together with colleagues from Europe and the USA, researchers from the University of Zurich present methods as to how the chytrid fungus can be combated in the journal Frontiers in Zoology: namely with bacteria and fungicides. However, the possibility of vaccinating the frogs is also being considered.
The midwife toad: a species that is particularly sensitive to the chytrid fungus. Photo: Benedikt Schmidt
The chytrid fungus on a frog’s skin. Photo: Douglas Woodhams
New pathogens are not just a growing problem for humans and livestock, but also wild animals. Along with the destruction of their habitats and the overexploitation of their populations, a disease caused by a chytrid fungus called chytridiomycosis is one of the three biggest killers of amphibians in the world.
Devastating declines in amphibian populations were observed in Australia and Central America in the 1980s and 1990s. However, it wasn’t until 1998 that the pathogen, the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, was finally identified and described; the fungus has been spreading ever since. “Whenever it has turned up somewhere new, huge numbers of frogs have died from the disease,” explains Benedikt Schmidt, a conservation biologist from the University of Zurich. What supposedly started out as a tropical disease has ballooned into a global problem. Today, the fungus can be found on every continent where there are frogs.
In Europe, the chytrid fungus and substantial declines in frog populations were first recorded in the mountains of Spain. “Wherever you looked for the fungus in Europe you found it”, says Schmidt. In Switzerland, the fungus was detected in about half of all the ponds sampled. Almost all the indigenous amphibian species were, albeit to varying degrees, infected with the chytrid fungus. And individual amphibians that had perished from chytridiomycosis were also discovered in Switzerland, although not to quite such an extent as the mass deaths in other countries.
While the causes of “normal” hazards for frogs are well known and it is clear how we can help the amphibians, in the case of the chytrid fungus there are no known counter-measures. Researchers from the University of Zurich therefore teamed up with colleagues from Spain, Australia and the USA to examine possible approaches to fight the fungus. “Treating individuals in a zoo, for example, is a piece of cake,” says Schmidt; “fighting the fungus out in nature, however, is a different kettle of fish altogether.”
Schmidt and co. see two particularly promising methods. The first involves using bacteria that live naturally on the frog’s skin. Some of these skin bacteria block the chytrid fungus and can thus cure the frogs. “The approach works in the lab,” explains Schmidt. “Now we need to test how the method can be used for frogs living in the wild.” The second approach is simple: You catch frogs or tadpoles, treat them for the fungus and let them go again. “This also works fine in principle,” says Schmidt. The only problem is how to prevent the animals from becoming reinfected as soon as you release them back into the wild.
Beat Müller | Universität Zürich
Researchers uncover protein-based “cancer signature”
05.12.2016 | Universität Basel
The Nagoya Protocol Creates Disadvantages for Many Countries when Applied to Microorganisms
05.12.2016 | Leibniz-Institut DSMZ-Deutsche Sammlung von Mikroorganismen und Zellkulturen GmbH
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
05.12.2016 | Materials Sciences
05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering