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Cure for chytrid: Scientists discover method to eliminate killer fungus

Breakthrough discovery leads to eradication of fatal amphibian disease

Date:
November 18, 2015
Source:
Zoological Society of London
Summary:
The first-ever successful elimination of a fatal chytrid fungus in a wild amphibian has been revealed by scientists, marking a major breakthrough in the fight against the disease responsible for devastating amphibian populations worldwide.
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The study combined antifungal treatment of Mallorcan midwife toad (Alytes muletensis) tadpoles with environmental disinfection.
Credit: Jaime Bosch MNCN-CSIC

Research published details the first-ever successful elimination of a fatal chytrid fungus in a wild amphibian, marking a major breakthrough in the fight against the disease responsible for devastating amphibian populations worldwide. The highly-infectious chytrid pathogen has severely affected over 700 amphibian species worldwide; driving population declines, extirpations and species extinctions across five continents.

Results from the seven-year study show the first evidence of eradicating the chytrid pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) affecting amphibians in situ. Published in Biology Letters, the paper details the outcome of a project led by scientists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), the National Museum of Natural History in Spain (MNCN-CSIC), and Imperial College London.

The study combined antifungal treatment of Mallorcan midwife toad (Alytes muletensis) tadpoles with environmental disinfection. By using an antifungal to treat tadpoles and a common laboratory decontaminant to sterilise the environment, researchers were able to clear infection from populations of the toad over the research period.

Co-author Dr Trenton Garner, Reader within ZSL's Institute of Zoology, said: "This study represents a major breakthrough in the fight against this highly-destructive pathogen; for the first time we have managed to rid wild individuals of infection for a continued period.

"Amphibian-associated chytrid fungi are a critical conservation issue that requires simple, straightforward and transferrable solutions. Our study is a significant step towards providing these."

Dr Jaime Bosch, Senior Researcher at MNCN-CSIC, added: "This is the first time that chytrid has ever been successfully eliminated from a wild population -- a real positive which we can take forward into further research to tackle this deadly disease. Chytrid is a global issue which affects amphibian populations worldwide, and I am proud to be part of a team of leading institutions at the forefront of this pioneering research working towards a solution."

Chytrid fungal infections causing amphibian mass mortality were first identified at the end of the 20th century by a consortium of scientists, including ZSL researchers.


Story Source:

Materials provided by Zoological Society of London. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. Bosch, E. Sanchez-Tome, A. Fernandez-Loras, J. A. Oliver, M. C. Fisher, T. W. J. Garner. Successful elimination of a lethal wildlife infectious disease in nature. Biology Letters, 2015; 11 (11): 20150874 DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2015.0874

Cite This Page:

Zoological Society of London. "Cure for chytrid: Scientists discover method to eliminate killer fungus: Breakthrough discovery leads to eradication of fatal amphibian disease." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 November 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151118070801.htm>.
Zoological Society of London. (2015, November 18). Cure for chytrid: Scientists discover method to eliminate killer fungus: Breakthrough discovery leads to eradication of fatal amphibian disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 27, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151118070801.htm
Zoological Society of London. "Cure for chytrid: Scientists discover method to eliminate killer fungus: Breakthrough discovery leads to eradication of fatal amphibian disease." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151118070801.htm (accessed May 27, 2017).

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