Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fungus Suspect In Frog Deaths

Date:
June 26, 1998
Source:
CSIRO Australia
Summary:
A new fungal disease appears to be responsible for mass deaths in frog populations in Australia and Panama.

A new fungal disease appears to be responsible for mass deaths in frog populations in Australia and Panama.

Australian researchers from CSIRO Australian Animal Heath Laboratory in Geelong and James Cook University in Townsville were first to find the new fungus in 10 frog species and have shown that the fungus kills frogs in laboratory trials.

A similar fungus was found on amphibians in Panama last year.

In the last two decades there have been many reports of frog population crashes around the world. Some are clearly due to pollution and other environmental changes. The idea has emerged that frog disappearances are an early indication of environmental degradation.

The areas where this fungus was found include areas that are “pristine”. Population crashes have been observed here in relatively pristine areas of tropical Queensland rainforest. Similar sudden declines have occurred in protected mountainous rainforest areas in Central and South America.

An international team of scientists has been collaborating to solve this problem. The Australians have been working with researchers in the UK and USA. They’ve found evidence that a new fungal disease is causing mass mortalities in amphibian populations in both Australia and Panama. In 1993 the suspect was first found in Australia at the Melbourne Zoo and in the wild in forests near Cook Town in Northern Queensland.

Dr Lee Berger and Dr Alex Hyatt, from CSIRO AAHL in Geelong began investigating the issue in 1995 with Dr Rick Speare, from James Cook University, Townsville.

“We found that this fungus invades the superficial layers of the skin, causing damage to the keratin layer on the skin surface,” says Dr Berger. “As frogs drink and breathe through their skin, the fungus may kill the frogs by disrupting these mechanisms”

“The fungus is a new species of aquatic chytrid fungi, which is yet to be named. Chytrid fungi have not previously been found to parasitise vertebrates before. Other types of chytrid fungi can live freely in the water or soil, and there are some that are parasites of plants and insects,” says Berger.

Peter Daszak, Kingston University Surrey in the UK and Louise Goggin CSIRO Marine Research, Hobart identified the fungus using electron microscopy and molecular biology. Berger and Hyatt then demonstrated that it could infect and kill frogs. Strangely, tadpoles do not succumb to this disease. This fits with field reports where tadpoles have been seen in areas after the adults have disappeared. About 2- 3 weeks after metamorphosing, young frogs have been found dying.

Their US colleagues have found the same fungus in frogs in many zoos and have retrospectively shown it was present in one zoo as early as 1988.

Investigations are continuing - to confirm the hypothesis, and work out how this disease has emerged to become significant. It is possible that it has been introduced to these areas, or that environmental changes have made the frogs susceptible. Further studies are also needed to determine how closely related are the fungi from different areas and whether they are all the same species.

The success of this investigation has been due to the collaboration of scientists with different areas of expertise, and from different countries. The team includes:

Dr Lee Berger, CSIRODr Alex Hyatt, CSIRO Dr Rick Speare, James Cook University, TownsvilleDr Peter Dasak, Kingston University Surrey UKDr Andrew Cunningham, Institute of Zoology, London UKDr David Green, NIH Maryland USADr Karen Lips, University of South Illinois USAKeith McDonald, Queensland Department of EnvironmentHarry Hines, Queensland Department of Environment

A scientific account of the investigation will be published next month in the prestigious US scientific journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Background information including photographs of the frogs is available at http://www.ah.csiro.au

More information:

Ian McTaggart, CSIRO Animal Health on 03 5227 5426, 0419 395 263 (ah), e-mail ian.mctaggart@dah.csiro.au

Dr Rick Speare, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland Tel 07 4722 5700

Nick Petford, Press Officer, faculty of Science, Kingston University UKph 0181 547 7497, Fax 0181 547 7497

ZSL Press Office, Zoological Society of London, UK ph 0171 449 6363

Dr David Earl Green National Institute of Health Maryland USA

Dr Karen Lips University of South Illinois USA


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by CSIRO Australia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

CSIRO Australia. "Fungus Suspect In Frog Deaths." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 June 1998. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/06/980626004032.htm>.
CSIRO Australia. (1998, June 26). Fungus Suspect In Frog Deaths. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/06/980626004032.htm
CSIRO Australia. "Fungus Suspect In Frog Deaths." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/06/980626004032.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins