A fungus that is devastating populations of frogs and toads around the world may be vulnerable to a virus that can infect it, and scientists could be genetically engineered to kill it

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The Panamanian golden frog (Atelopus zeteki) is a tiny, brightly colored, frog-like toad native to the rainforests and cloud forests of Panama, that is extinct in the wild. Its bright coloration warns predators of its overwhelming toxicity. (Credit: Brian Gratwicke / CC BY 2.0 DEED)

A deadly fungus that is devastating frogs and toads around the world may in fact be vulnerable to a virus that can infect it. The fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis also known as Bd or the amphibian chytrid fungus, causes chytridiomycosis in amphibians. This fungus is a pathogen that infects and destroys the skin of frogs and toads, eventually causing heart failure due to electrolyte loss.

Bd is causing a global pandemic that has either contributed to or caused the probable extinction of 90 amphibian species, including the Panamanian golden frog, Atelopus zeteki, or the severe declines of more than 500 amphibian species.

A team of researchers at the University of California at Riverside, recently announced their discovery of a virus that infects Bd. Further, they think it can be genetically engineered to control or destroy the fungal disease, thereby saving declining amphibian populations.

β€œFrogs control bad insects, crop pests, and mosquitoes,” said study co-author microbiologist Mark Yacoub, a doctoral student at…



𝐆𝐫𝐫π₯π’πœπ’πžπ§π­π’π¬π­, scientist & journalist
Gardening, Birding, and Outdoor Adventure

PhD evolutionary ecology/ornithology. Psittacophile. SciComm senior contributor at Forbes, former SciComm at Guardian. Also on Substack at 'Words About Birds'.