A2: Microbes in the News #2_ Hammond

  • Mass amphibian extinctions globally caused by fungal disease
  • Australian National University, March 28th, 2019
  • https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190328150806.htm


  • Summary:Chytridiomycosis, is a flesh eating disease caused by the Asian fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis or chytrid. While Asian amphibians have conferred resistance to this disease, this invasive fungus has been decimating amphibians in Australia, Central America, and South America due to the increase of wildlife trade and globalism. According to Dr. Ben Scheele, this is substantially decreasing amphibian biodiversity in those regions. Furthermore, this disease has caused mass amphibian extinctions worldwide. In order to decrease the prevalence of this disease, Dr. Scheele advocates improving biosecurity and increasing wildlife trade regulations. However, it is likely the world will see on going amphibian declines over the next decade from Chytridiomycosis.


  • Connections:This story connects to what we’ve learned in class by highlighting pathogenic microbes and the virulence of the chytrid fungus.


  • Critical analysis:I found this article to be interesting from a political standpoint and a scientific standpoint. This article highlights how globalism can be detrimental to environments. The Asian chytrid fungus, generally is ineffective to Asian amphibians, however, those amphibians can act as a reservoir for this fungus and can affect amphibians in other regions, if they come in contact. From a scientific standpoint, it is fascinating how a fungus that is commensal to Asian amphibians is pathogenic to amphibians all over the world. Its unfortunate American and Australian amphibians cannot undergo genetic exchange with Asian amphibians to increase their resistance. This story was scientifically correct, and was presented well to communicate their findings to the public without confusion. It did not include any convoluted immunity responses the general public would not understand and it was short and to the point.


  • Question:After reading this story, I am interested to see how this affects North American amphibians, specifically in the Arctic, such as the woodland frog. The woodland frog is a physiological anomaly in that it has the ability to essentially freeze itself in the winter and “thaw out’ during the spring. Could this fungus make its way to Alaska and decimate the woodland frog population?

1 Comment for “A2: Microbes in the News #2_ Hammond”



One wonders from a political standpoint if it isn’t already too late to prevent the spread of the fungus to much of the world. Also interesting is how we could treat populations that are already infected. It could be that Alaska’s amphibians may have some protection as they are relatively isolated from other species. As for the woodland frog, freezing in the winter may offer it some protection from potential pathogens. It would be difficult for the fungi to spread when its hosts are frozen.

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