Research | Diagnostic | Education

The chytrid fungus

An age of extinction is occurring; and little is being done to stop it. A recent paper by Wake and Vredenburg (2008) describe the severity and significance of the disappearance of amphibian populations across the world. Nearly 1/3rd of all amphibian species have been classified as threatened with extinction (Stuart et al. 2004), with several different factors listed as probable causes (Storfer and Collins 2006). While it is clearly difficult to entangle many of these factors (Blaustein and Kiesecker 2002), one has emerged as strikingly dangerous and incredibly fast moving, the chytrid fungus (Rachowicz et al. 2006). This pathogenic fungus has been found to extirpate populations across the world, with well documented cases on every continent examined. Due to the imminence of this emerging infectious disease, it is critically important that the presence of this fungus is first identified and secondly that research is done to find ways to understand its emergence and spread. A worldwide initiative is underway in zoos and wildlife agencies to stop the spread of the chytrid fungus. Fortunately, several protocols and methodologies have been established to help tackle this issue (Skerratt et al. 2008; Boyle et al. 2004; Retallick et al. 2006).

I am interested in determining the presence of Chytrid in the Midwest and in particular examining the role contaminant exposure has on disease susceptibility