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article imageTackling frog-killing fungus

By Tim Sandle     Jul 12, 2014 in Environment
Scientists have found that repeated exposure to a harmful fungus can help a proportion of frogs ward off infection. Through this, many frogs have been shown to self-clear infections.
A chytrid fungus that attacks frogs has caused a multitude of deaths to amphibian populations around the globe. Tackling the fungus by stopping it from spreading has proved difficult for biologists. However, a new way of treating the disease may be on the horizon. Researchers, National Geographic notes, have found that frogs who survived fungal exposure multiple times appeared to build up some immunity.
Building on this, researchers exposed frogs to dead or live Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (the fungus that causes the infections). In exposing the fungus, they did not allow the infection to take hold. In both cases, those frogs that had been exposed multiple times fared better than frogs that had not met the fungus before. The results show that frogs can develop immunity to the fungus, perhaps offering a method of inoculating the animals.
Jason Rohr, a biologist at the University of South Florida and a coauthor of the study, said in a research note: "Our findings offer hope that amphibians and other wild animals threatened by fungal pathogens — such as bats, bees and snakes — might be capable of acquiring resistance to fungi and so might be rescued by management approaches based on herd immunity."
The research has been published in the journal Nature, in a paper headed "Amphibians acquire resistance to live and dead fungus overcoming fungal immunosuppression."
More about Frogs, Fungus, inoculum, chytrid, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis
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