Conservationists have collected hundreds of amphibian species threatened by the fungus and are maintaining them in captivity with the hope to someday re-establish them in the wild. However, reintroduction efforts so far have failed because of the persistence of the fungus at collection sites.
"A particularly exciting result from our research was that amphibian exposure to dead chytrid induced a similar magnitude of acquired resistance as exposure to the live fungus," McMahon said.
"This suggests that exposure of waterbodies or captive-bred amphibians to dead chytrid or chytrid antigens might offer a practical way to protect chytrid-nave amphibian populations and to facilitate the reintroduction of captive-bred amphibians to locations in the wild where the fungus persists."
"Immune responses to fungi are similar across vertebrates and many animals are capable of learning to avoid natural enemies," Rohr emphasized. "Hence, our findings offer hope that amphibians and other wild animals threatened by fungal pathogens - such as bats, bees, and snakes - might be capable of acquiring resistance to fungi and thus might be rescued by management approaches based on herd immunity."
Rohr cautioned, however, that "although this approach is promising, more research is needed to determine the success of this strategy."
|Contact: Vickie Chachere|
University of South Florida (USF Health)