Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Frog killer caught in the act

20.07.2010
Incidence of a lethal infectious disease moves at a rate of 30 kilometers per year

A killer has been caught in the act: the first before-and-after view of an infectious disease that led to an amphibian die-off has been released by the scientists who tracked it.

The results are published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Like a wave, incidence of the fungal disease that wipes out Central American frogs--chytridiomycosis--advances through the region's highlands at a rate of about 30 kilometers per year.

After the disappearance of Costa Rica's golden frogs in the 1980s, Karen Lips, a biologist at the University of Maryland, established a monitoring program at untouched sites in neighboring Panama.

Of the 63 species she identified during surveys conducted from 1998 to 2004 in Omar Torrijos National Park, located in El Copé, Panama, 25 species disappeared from the site in a subsequent epidemic.

As of 2008, none of these species had reappeared.

Were there additional species in the park not previously known to science?

To find out, the authors used a genetic technique called DNA barcoding to estimate that another 11 unnamed or "candidate" species were also present.

Combining field research and genetic information, the authors discovered that five of these unnamed species were also wiped out.

"Frog and salamander extinction due to the chytrid fungus is increasing worldwide," says Sam Scheiner, program director in the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s Division of Environmental Biology, which funded the research.

"These methods will allow a rapid measure of their diversity, so that we can monitor, and possibly mitigate, that extinction."

"It's sadly ironic that we are discovering new species nearly as fast as we're losing them," says Andrew Crawford, former postdoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) and member of the Círculo Herpetológico de Panamá, now at the University of the Andes in Colombia.

"Our DNA barcode data reveal new species even at this relatively well-studied site, yet the field sampling shows that many of these species new to science are already gone."

An epidemic that wipes out a whole group of organisms is like the fire that burned the famous library of Alexandria, the scientists say.

It destroys a huge amount of accumulated information about how life has coped with change in the past.

Species surveys are like counting the number of different titles in the library; a genetic survey is like counting the number of different words.

"When you lose the words, you lose the potential to make new books," says Lips.

"It's similar to the extinction of the dinosaurs. The areas where the disease has passed through are like graveyards. There's a void to be filled--and we don't know what will happen."

"This is the first time that we've used genetic barcodes--DNA sequences unique to each living organism--to characterize an entire amphibian community," said Eldredge Bermingham, STRI director and a co-author of the paper.

"The before-and-after approach we took with these frogs tells us exactly what was lost to this deadly disease--33 percent of their evolutionary history."

The Bay and Paul Foundation also funded the field work for the study. Collection permits were provided by Panama's Environmental Authority, ANAM.

Cheryl Dybas | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nsf.gov

Further reports about: DNA DNA sequence Frog Lips STRI Science TV environmental risk new species

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Molecular microscopy illuminates molecular motor motion
26.07.2017 | Penn State

nachricht New virus discovered in migratory bird in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
26.07.2017 | Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

CCNY physicists master unexplored electron property

26.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Molecular microscopy illuminates molecular motor motion

26.07.2017 | Life Sciences

Large-Mouthed Fish Was Top Predator After Mass Extinction

26.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>