November 23, 2009
Killer Fungus Threatening Amphibians
Amphibians like frogs and toads have existed for 360 million years and survived when the dinosaurs didn't, but a new aquatic fungus is threatening to make many of them extinct, according to an article in the November issue of Microbiology Today.
The fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd),was found to be associated with waves of amphibian extinctions in Central America and north-eastern Australia in the 1990's. Bd infects over 350 amphibian species by penetrating their skin, but little else is known about where it came from and how it causes disease.
Researchers are trying different approaches to treat existing Bd infection. Some are treating tadpoles with antifungal drugs, whilst more innovative approaches involve introducing "Ëprobiotic' bacteria that naturally secrete antifungal compounds which kill Bd on amphibians' skin. To help limit the spread of infection, the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) now recommends screening imported amphibians for presence of Bd.
Other articles in the November 2009 issue of Microbiology Today include:
* Are our homes microbiologically safe for cats and dogs? (page 204)
* Prebiotics for pets (page 196)
* Viruses in coldwater ornamental fish (page 200)
* A century of Toxoplasma gondii research (page 192)
* The significance of zoonotic transmission of viruses in human disease (page 212)
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