Chytrid Fungus Does Not Do Well In Salty Bodies Of Water

November 19, 2013

The deadly chytrid fungus that is killing amphibians around the world may be less toxic in wetlands that are warm and have higher salt co ntent than other frog habitats, according to Australian researchers who studied the effects of salty wetlands on the fungus. Their study, published in the journal Ecological Appli cations, took a look at the growling grass frog (Litoria raniformis), that lives in bluestone and clay quarries and found that these saltier and warmer bodies of water had water conditions that didn't have much effect on the frogs, yet were able to weaken the impact the chytrid fungus had on the frogs.

T he study's lead author, Dr. Geoff Heard of Melbourne University's school of botany, along with Arthur Rylah Institute researchers Michael Scroggie, Nick Clemann and David Ramsey studied 10 wetlands areas north of Melbourne. They found that the warm quarry wetlands between 69 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit reduced the infection rates in the frogs and enabled infected frogs to better fight off the fungus. They also found that the frog populations  in these quarries were high, while their populations have experienced a large drop in numbers in New South Wales, where it is listed as endangered.

The chytrid fungus is killing amphibian populations worldwide by attacking the ski n of the amphibians, which kills them. It was first discovered in 1991 and described later in 1998. Its scientific name is Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. Sci entists speculate the fungus arrived in the United States from Africa in the 1930s via the African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis) which is resistant to the fung us. It is believed that the fungus found its way around the workld via the American bullfrog, (Rana catesbeiana) which is also resistant to the fungus but is prized for its frog legs, its use in scientific research, and its used as a fish bait.

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