New treatment could help protect vulnerable species
Scientists in the UK and Spain say they’ve developed a way to tackle the amphibian-killing chytrid fungus in a way that could help protect wild populations of amphibians.
Their research is a major breakthrough in the battle against the deadly disease, which has affected over 700 amphibian species worldwide; driving population declines, extirpations and species extinctions across five continents.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,” said Dr, Jaime Bosch, Senior Researcher with the National Museum of Natural History in Spain.
“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,” Bosch said.
The study combined antifungal treatment of Mallorcan midwife toad tadpoles with environmental disinfection. By using an antifungal to treat tadpoles and a common laboratory decontaminant to sterilisze the environment, researchers were able to clear infection from populations of the toad over the research period.
“(F)or the first time we have managed to rid wild individuals of infection for a continued period,” said co-author Dr Trenton Garner, Reader with the Zoological Society of London. “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.”
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.
Results from the seven-year study have been published in Biology Letters.