Scientists are studying a bizarre and ancient fungus, which has recently become a deadly killer of frogs.
The fungus is on nearly every continent and affects over 400 known frog species. EarthSky spoke to Erica Bree Rosenblum, a biologist at the University of Idaho, about why this fungus is so deadly to frogs.
Scientists don’t exactly know, said Rosenblum The fungus gets into the water, swims around until it lands on a frog. Then it burrows into the skin of the frog and spreads. Eventually skin and organ functions fail, and frogs can die within a couple weeks.
The fungus is mysterious, and scientists are tracking it down by searching for why it’s such an effective killer. Rosenblum takes a genetic perspective. She sequences the genes of both the frog and the fungus and she looks for key differences to identify what she calls ‘candidate genes,’ and these genes might be a clue.
There’s no recovery for the frogs yet. That’s why scientists are so anxious to understand the fungus. If frog populations continue their rapid decline, it means a big loss of biodiversity and major impacts on ecosystems everywhere.
Our thanks to:
Erica Bree Rosenblum
University of Idaho
Learning to love science. As a producer for EarthSky, Lindsay Patterson interviews some of the world's most fascinating scientists. Through EarthSky, her work content is syndicated on some of the world's top media websites, including USAToday.com and Reuters.com. Patterson is also charged with helping to stay in steady communication with the thousands of scientists who contribute to EarthSky's work of making the voice of science heard in a noisy world. She graduated from Colorado College with a degree in creative writing, and a keen interest in all forms of journalism and media.