In a study conducted at the University of Idaho, scientists found that the immune system of the study’s frog species failed to respond to the chytrid fungus known as Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). In fact, it appears the fungal infection may actually suppress its victim’s immune system.
The findings are reported in a paper recently published in the Public Library of Science online edition (PLoS ONE), an interactive open-access journal for the communication of all peer-reviewed scientific and medical research.
“The biggest thing we found was a surprising lack of response by the frogs,” said Erica Bree Rosenblum, assistant professor of biological sciences and lead author of the study. “If you are hit with a deadly disease, you would expect that your body would do something about it. But we found that these frogs are not turning on immune function genes the way you would expect them to.”
Bd is an ancient fungus that only recently began killing frogs around the world. It lives inside of a frog’s skin, wreaking havoc by some unknown mechanism. Previous studies have shown that once Bd is introduced to a habitat, up to 50 percent of amphibian species and 80 percent of individuals can die within one year.
Scientists do not know how or why Bd kills its host, so Rosenblum is attacking the problem through genetics.
The study examined gene expression in the skin, liver and spleen of infected frogs of the species Silurana (Xenopus) tropicalis – a species highly susceptible to Bd – both three days after exposure and shortly before death. The skin was studied to determine what mechanisms cause frogs to die, while the liver and spleen were chosen to study the immune system’s response to the fungus.
Results found that not only are the genes related to immune response in infected frogs not turning on, but those genes are actually being suppressed.
“And that is the exact opposite of what one would expect to find,” said Rosenblum.
Besides the immune system, the study also looked at the frog’s skin to determine what processes, if any, are responsible for what amounts to a skin infection killing a vertebrate. This is a rare occurrence because, after all, humans don’t die from fungal skin conditions such as ringworm. So why should a fungal skin infection cause frogs to croak?
Though the study did not find any smoking guns, it did point to some disrupted genes in the frog’s skin; an organ that is much more important to an aquatic animal’s health than a land lover’s.
Other disrupted genes seem to affect cellular detoxification, which could make the frogs susceptible to toxins created by the fungus, the natural environment, or both.
According to Rosenblum, though this study is not good news for frogs, and only encompasses one species in a controlled environment, it is an important piece of the puzzle.
“This study is not the answer but it is a necessary first step to help us find the answer, said Rosenblum. “The next step in finding this answer involves further research on the generality of these findings in other species and other conditions.”The research paper can be found online at:
Ken Kingery | Newswise Science News
Transport of molecular motors into cilia
28.03.2017 | Aarhus University
Asian dust providing key nutrients for California's giant sequoias
28.03.2017 | University of California - Riverside
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
28.03.2017 | Life Sciences
28.03.2017 | Information Technology
28.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy