Since Meares, science has been able to control a disease that is decimating the world's amphibian populations

Science advances from Asturias. Researchers from the Joint Institute for Biodiversity Research (IMIB), based on the University of Mires campus, and the National Museum of Natural Sciences, have for the first time managed to treat chytridiomyxiasis, a condition that is decimating amphibian populations worldwide, without the need to remove the animals. from water. Their findings were published in the high-impact journal Scientific Reports.

The fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, found throughout the planet, causes a skin disease in amphibians that prevents proper regulation of water and electrolytes, which can lead to heart failure. It is transmitted from one animal to another and spreads rapidly through nature, causing catastrophic mortality in many species, although others do not experience significant changes. Their presence is one of the reasons for the widespread decline and extinction of species of frogs, toads or newts.

“Amphibians are the most threatened group of animals on the planet due to habitat loss and massive disease incidence,” explains IMIB Director, Jaime Bosch. In the past, the scientist led a study to treat the disease in midwife frog populations in the Balearic region, but the treatment required removing samples from bodies of water and emptying them before applying the treatment, which was very expensive.

On this occasion, the research team worked with populations of the house midwife frog (Alytes dickhilleni), a species endemic to the Petique mountain range, south-eastern Iberian Peninsula, which is particularly sensitive to the disease. “After many years of study and research into possible ways to reduce the incidence of this disease, we have been able to eliminate the fungus in the natural environment without first having to remove animals, which is very encouraging news,” Bush celebrates. He adds: “It is too late for many of the species that we have seen go extinct before our eyes, but it may not be too late for many others.”

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With tebuconazole, an agricultural fungicide, applied twice to the contaminated water in which the midge frog breeds, the infectious load was reduced “significantly.” Furthermore, in six of the 10 treated pts, clearance was maintained after more than 2 years. The effects of the product disappeared after a week of application without leaving noticeable effects on the chemical and biological properties of the water.

“We are clear that the use of chemicals in nature is absolutely undesirable, but given the very serious situation in which some amphibian species find themselves around the world due to humans, it is necessary to make effective interventions in certain populations, especially threatened ones,” she says. Another researcher, Barbora Thomsova.

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