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Biology Seminar: "Fighting the Amphibian Chytrid Fungus"

Fri, 25 Apr 2014 12:20 PM - 1:05 PM

Fighting the Amphibian Chytrid Fungus: Proactive Identification of Amphibian Probiotics in Madagascar

Molly Bletz, Research Associate

Bioscience Bldg room 1007

The chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) attacks the skin of amphibians and has caused widespread amphibian declines and extinctions around the world with concomitant effects on ecosystems. Much of Madagascar's rich frog fauna inhabits regions predicted by ecological-niche modeling to be optimal for Bd, and therefore Bd is an inevitable threat to Malagasy amphibians. A proactive strategy is necessary to protect these endemic frog species from declines and extinctions such as those seen in Central American when Bd arrived.

Recent work in the Harris lab at JMU has shown that some skin bacterial species on amphibians inhibit Bd.  To proactively develop disease mitigation strategies, we have designed a screening protocol to identify effective probiotics and have started an initiative in collaboration with the government of Madagascar to collect and identify effective probiotics for Malagasy amphibians. So far we have sampled the skin bacteria from 120 species and over 1000 individuals.  Eight hundred bacterial isolates have been cultured from these samples, and challenge assay to determine whether the isolates can inhibit Bd are underway. Several inhibitory isolates have already been found, and all inhibitory isolates will be candidate probiotics that could help protect and conserve Malagasy frogs.

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