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Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 13255440

Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation (Project No. 13255440) - Harlequin mantella - Awarded $24,971 on June 13, 2013

Amphibians are threatened by the fungal disease chytridiomycosis, which has already killed frogs around the world. Chytridiomycosis is caused by the pathogenic skin fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, and is the largest disease threat the biodiversity at the present time. In Central America, species like the Panamanian Golden Frog can no longer be found in the wild because of Bd.

Bd is currently absent from the island of Madagascar, but this pathogen will likely arrive at any time.  Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot, home to over 400 species of frogs. Bd has spread rapidly around the world. It is only a matter of time before the pathogen reaches Madagascar where it will likely decimate the diverse frog fauna.

It is imperative to consider a prevention and mitigation strategy now in order to prevent catastrophic declines and extinctions in Madagascar like those seen in other tropical areas.

The addition of beneficial bacteria to a frog's skin is a promising disease mitigation strategy based on growing evidence that microbes are an important defense for both plants and animals. Addition of locally-occurring protective bacteria to amphibians has effectively prevented disease in laboratory trials and recent fields trials.

Our goal is to develop probiotic conservation strategies using our recently developed six-phase filtering protocols to preserve Madagascar's remarkable amphibian biodiversity.

This work will begin in August 2013. At this time we will work in two phases. During Phase One, we will collect mircobes from the skins of amphibians. The microbes will be incubated and and subsequently preserved. During Phase Two of the project, we will attempt to identify effective probiotics to inhibit the fungal pathogen, Bd.  

Project 13255440 location - Madagascar, Africa