Monday, May 10, 2010

Chytrid fungi

Available online today through PNAS early edition:

Dynamics of an emerging disease drive large-scale amphibian population extinctions
and
Enzootic and Epizootic Dynamics of the Chytrid Fungal Pathogen of Amphibians

UCSB has the Cliff notes press release: Studies Offer New Insights Into How Deadly Amphibian Disease Spreads and Kills

Scientists have unraveled the dynamics of a deadly disease that is wiping out amphibian populations across the globe. Chytridiomycosis is caused by a microscopic aquatic fungus called Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) that attacks the skin of amphibians. The new findings, from two separate studies published in today's online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), suggest that infection intensity –– the severity of the disease among individuals –– determines whether frog populations will survive or succumb to chytridiomycosis. The research identifies a critical tipping point in infection intensity, beyond which chytridiomycosis causes mass mortalities and extinctions. UC Santa Barbara's Cheryl J. Briggs, professor of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology and the Duncan and Suzanne Mellichamp Chair in Systems Biology, is lead author of the second study and a co-author of the first study. Other collaborators from UCSB were Roland A. Knapp, a research biologist with the Marine Science Institute, and graduate student Tate S. Tunstall.

Cherie currently has ten undergraduates including at least 4 and possibly 5 CCS students working in her lab on a variety of projects from modeling and database work to PCR and genetic analysis to foodweb and mesocosm studies. So if any aspect of this work sounds interesting then you should contact either Cherie or Mary Toothman, her lab manager, directly.

Not forgetting of course how many ways this work ties into our lectures this quarter - Chytrid fungus (check); vertebrates (check); community interactions (check).

1 comment:

Josh Cohen said...

I'm one of the CCS bio undergrads in the lab. It's been such a great opportunity. I've learned so many valuable laboratory skills and had the opportunity to do molecular work, culturing work, modeling work, animal care, and over the summer, I'll hopefully be involved in field work.

If you have any questions, you can also feel free to contact me (Josh Cohen). My contact info is on the lab website site.