A team of scientists from Cornell University, US, has taken a huge leap towards understanding why the fungal disease chytridiomycosis (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) has such devastating and fatal effects on some amphibian populations while others fight off the infection, remaining healthy.
The group have identified genetic factors that seem to make some individual frogs immune. These individuals have a genetic difference that can be traced back to regions of DNA that form part of the immune system called the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). This helps the body’s immune system identify foreign bodies (such as fungi or bacteria).
These findings could influence captive breeding programs around the world. The idea would be to screen amphibians' MHC genes before breeding, to increase the odds of producing Bd-resistant tadpoles, which in turn would produce a more resilient population.
Of course this is fantastic news for our vulnerable amphibians, but does not take away from the fact that much work is still needed to combat their greatest threat, habitat destruction. This is why organisations like ARC will continue with conservation projects across the UK and abroad.
See an article written by the BBC News for more details on this story >>>
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