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Bacteria Helps Frogs Fight Deadly Skin Disease

First Posted: Oct 08, 2015 12:27 PM EDT

Naturally occurring bacteria on frogs' skin could be the solution in helping the amphibians fight off a deadly skin disease, according to a recent study conducted by researchers at Virginia Tech.

Chytridiomycosis is a fungal disease has threatened over 500 species of amphibians across the world. This disease destroys amphibians' skin, which eventually results in death, according to a news release.

The researchers found that frogs with normal bacteria that were treated with antibiotics saw no improvements, and they lost weight instead. This showed that the normal bacteria is important for frog's health.

"It turned out that in this experiment, it wasn't about a single bacterium being protective, but rather the structure of the whole community was important in infection and frog health," said Jeni Walke, a postdoctoral associate in Biological Sciences at Virginia Tech.

The chytrid fungus disease is one of the worst diseases that the amphibian species have been exposed to. The scientists also claimed that human factors such as climate change, pollution, invasive species and habitat degradation created additional difficulties for the species. The diet and habitats of amphibians may also influence the disease, according to the researchers.

"Chytrid disease is devastating large numbers of amphibian communities in many parts of the world," said Simon Malcomber, program director in the National Science Foundation's Division of Environmental Biology, which funded the research.

"The study shows the importance of amphibian microbiomes in mediating the effects of chytrid disease, and offers hope of limiting the infection," said Malcomber.

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