20 June 2024
Deadly amphibian disease linked to drought

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Deadly amphibian disease may be driven by drought, researchers find. Pumpkin toadlets, thumbnail-sized orange frogs, are facing a threat from progressively severe droughts. These droughts disrupt the microbiomes of the frogs, potentially making them vulnerable to a deadly fungal disease. Abnormal rainfall patterns, expected to worsen due to climate change and deforestation, may disrupt mutually beneficial relationships between wildlife and microorganisms, leading to biodiversity decline.

Deadly Amphibian Disease: Drought, Vulnerability, and the Critical Role of Skin Microbiomes



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Introduction:

The world is home to a diverse array of amphibians, including frogs, toads, and salamanders. These creatures play a crucial role in maintaining the health of ecosystems, serving as both predators and prey. However, many amphibian species are facing a significant threat: a deadly fungal disease known as chytridiomycosis. This disease, caused by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), has been responsible for the decline and extinction of numerous amphibian populations worldwide.

Drought and Amphibian Vulnerability to Chytridiomycosis:

Recent research has uncovered a disturbing link between drought and the vulnerability of amphibians to chytridiomycosis. A study conducted by an international team of scientists, led by Shannon Buttimer and Guilherme Becker from Penn State University, investigated the impact of drought on the skin microbiomes of pumpkin toadlets, a thumbnail-sized orange frog found in Brazil. The researchers discovered that prolonged droughts disrupt the composition and diversity of the toadlets’ skin microbiomes, making them more susceptible to infection by Bd.

The Significance of Skin Microbiomes in Amphibian Health:

Amphibians, like many other animals, rely on a diverse community of microorganisms living on their skin, known as the skin microbiome. These microbes play a crucial role in protecting the host from infection and disease. Certain bacteria in the skin microbiome produce antimicrobial substances that inhibit the growth of harmful fungi, including Bd.

Drought-Induced Dysbiosis and Increased Susceptibility to Chytridiomycosis:

Drought conditions can lead to a phenomenon called dysbiosis, where the composition and function of the skin microbiome become unbalanced. This disruption can result in a decline in the abundance of beneficial bacteria that protect against Bd infection. The researchers found that toadlets experiencing drought conditions had fewer known Bd-inhibiting bacteria on their skin, making them more vulnerable to infection.

Climate Change, Deforestation, and the Implications for Amphibian Conservation:

The study highlights the potential consequences of climate change and deforestation on amphibian populations. Abnormal rainfall patterns, including prolonged droughts, are becoming more common due to climate change and deforestation. These changes can disrupt the delicate balance of amphibian skin microbiomes, increasing the risk of chytridiomycosis outbreaks and potentially leading to population declines.

Conclusion:

The findings of this study emphasize the importance of considering the health of amphibian skin microbiomes when assessing the impacts of environmental stressors, such as drought, climate change, and deforestation. By understanding the complex interactions between amphibians, their skin microbiomes, and environmental factors, scientists can develop strategies to protect these vulnerable creatures and preserve the biodiversity of our planet..

FAQ’s

1. What is Chytridiomycosis, and how does it affect amphibians?

Chytridiomycosis is a deadly fungal disease caused by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). It affects amphibians, including frogs, toads, and salamanders, leading to population declines and extinctions worldwide.

2. How does drought impact amphibian microbiomes?

Drought conditions can disrupt the composition and diversity of amphibian skin microbiomes. This disruption can lead to a decline in the abundance of beneficial bacteria that protect against Bd infection, making amphibians more vulnerable to chytridiomycosis.

3. What is the role of skin microbiomes in amphibian health?

Amphibian skin microbiomes play a crucial role in protecting the host from infection and disease. Certain bacteria in the skin microbiome produce antimicrobial substances that inhibit the growth of harmful fungi, including Bd.

4. What is dysbiosis, and how does it affect amphibians?

Dysbiosis occurs when the composition and function of the skin microbiome become unbalanced. This disruption can result in a decline in the abundance of beneficial bacteria that protect against Bd infection, making amphibians more vulnerable to chytridiomycosis.

5. How do climate change and deforestation contribute to amphibian vulnerability to chytridiomycosis?

Climate change and deforestation can lead to abnormal rainfall patterns, including prolonged droughts. These changes can disrupt the delicate balance of amphibian skin microbiomes, increasing the risk of chytridiomycosis outbreaks and potentially leading to population declines.

Links to additional Resources:

1. www.sciencedaily.com 2. www.nature.com 3. www.nationalgeographic.com

Related Wikipedia Articles

Topics: Amphibians, Chytridiomycosis (disease), Skin microbiome

Amphibian
Amphibians are ectothermic, anamniotic, four-limbed vertebrate animals that constitute the class Amphibia. In its broadest sense, it is a paraphyletic group encompassing all tetrapods, excluding the amniotes (tetrapods with an amniotic membrane, such as modern reptiles, birds, and mammals). All extant (living) amphibians belong to the monophyletic subclass Lissamphibia, with...
Read more: Amphibian

Chytridiomycosis
Chytridiomycosis ( ky-TRID-ee-ə-my-KOH-sis) is an infectious disease in amphibians, caused by the chytrid fungi Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis and Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans. Chytridiomycosis has been linked to dramatic population declines or extinctions of amphibian species in western North America, Central America, South America, eastern Australia, east Africa (Tanzania), and Dominica and Montserrat in...
Read more: Chytridiomycosis

Skin flora
Skin flora, also called skin microbiota, refers to microbiota (communities of microorganisms) that reside on the skin, typically human skin. Many of them are bacteria of which there are around 1,000 species upon human skin from nineteen phyla. Most are found in the superficial layers of the epidermis and the...
Read more: Skin flora

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