Using Probiotics to Battle Chytrid Fungus

I’ve dedicated this week of my life to non-stop science.  This weekend, I’m at a workshop focused on integrating math into undergraduate biology courses.  Then, I’m off to the Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Disease conference.

However, I didn’t want to leave you hanging without a post, so here’s a quick post about a neat topic.  This is my first post about Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd).  Bd is a fungal pathogen that causes the disease chytridiomycosis (aka chytrid) in amphibians.  If you don’t know anything about chytrid, I highly recommend googling it – maybe start with the Wikipedia page?  I’ll blog about it in the future, but today, I want to focus on mitigating the disease.  How can we protect individual amphibians and populations of amphibians from the ill effects of Bd?

This month, there’s an Ecology Letters paper about using “probiotics” or “bioaugmentation” to mitigate Bd.  That is, by inoculating amphibians with symbiotic bacteria that are known to inhibit Bd growth, we may reduce Bd loads on infected individuals and/or prevent uninfected individuals from acquiring Bd.  The paper outlines ways to go about using probiotics to protect amphibians, and YOU should check it out HERE, right now!

Reference:

Bletz et al. 2013.  Mitigating amphibian chytridiomycosis with bioaugmentation: characteristics of effective probiotics and strategies for their selection and use. Ecology Letters 16(6): 807-820.