Can hungry microbes save the world’s imperiled frogs?


Grist

A Panamanian golden frog, the stoic mascot of mass extinction, is actually still alive in captive breeding programs.ShutterstockA Panamanian golden frog, the stoic mascot of mass extinction, is actually still alive in captive breeding programs.

Humans have shuffled and squelched so many different species that on the death-and-destruction scale, we rank up there with asteroids. One of our latest victims? Amphibians, which have been dying in droves since a mysterious fungal infection went global, wiping out frogs everywhere from the remote jungles of Central America to the insulated glass cases of the Melbourne Zoo.

New research suggests that the pathogen responsible for the frogs’ plague, a fungus nicknamed Bd (that’s Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis to you; “chytrid” to friends) could potentially be staved off by another group of voracious micro-predators. Whether that is enough to bring the Panamanian golden frog and its amphibious ilk back from the brink remains to be seen — but scientists are willing to try, even if that means going microscopic on ecosystem management.

The critically endangered Australian corroboree frog.Australian AlpsThe critically endangered Australian corroboree frog…

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