Environment & Biodiversity

Chytridiomycosis is a devastating frog disease

  • A international group recently published a ground-breaking approach for detecting all known strains of the amphibian chytrid fungus in the journal Transboundary and Emerging Diseases.
  • This technology will improve our ability to detect and research the condition, as well as work towards the development of a broadly available cure.

Chytridiomycosis is a lethal frog illness.

  • Chytridiomycosis, often known as chytrid, is a fungal disease that has wiped out frog populations all over the world for the past 40 years.
  • The disease has caused significant decreases in over 500 frog species and 90 extinctions, making it the most lethal animal sickness yet discovered.

How does it spread?

  • Chytrid infects frogs by multiplying in their skin and wreaking havoc on their capacity to regulate water and salt levels.
  • The mortality rate is significant, and the disease has afflicted a large number of species, causing catastrophic decreases and extinctions.
  • The disease started in Asia and spread over the world via amphibian trade and travel.

Diagnostic limitations

  • Swabs and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) tests, comparable to COVID-19 testing, were formerly employed to identify chytrid in frogs.
  • The existing qPCR technique was unable to detect Asian chytrid strains, limiting research efforts.

New and Improved qPCR Test

  • Researchers from India, Australia, and Panama have developed a novel qPCR test that can detect chytrid strains from Asia.
  • The test is also more sensitive, allowing it to identify low levels of infection and broadening the spectrum of species that can be examined.
  • A nearly related species of chytrid that infects salamanders can also be detected with the test.

Understanding Frog Natural Immunity

  • Some amphibian species, even those with no evolutionary history with chytrid, do not get sick when infected, demonstrating inherent immunological resilience.
  • Frog immunity is intricate, involving anti-microbial compounds, symbiotic bacteria, white blood cells, antibodies, and other factors.
  • Research in Asia, where chytrid decreases have not been recorded, could provide insights into how resistance emerges and aid in the discovery of a cure for impacted areas.
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