Louise Rollins-Smith: Research team scours Panama for clues to help fight amphibian chytrid fungus.


From left to right: Laura Reinert (Vanderbilt), Matthew Becker (Virginia Tech), Douglas Woodhams (University of Zurich), Louise Rollins-Smith (Vanderbilt) and Jenifer Walke (Virginia Tech).

In January 2010, Douglas Woodhams (University of Zurich) led a group of researchers to collect frogs and sample skin peptides and skin bacteria in two Panama locations (Torti and El Copé).  Approximately 152 frogs were sampled representing nineteen species.  All frogs were also swabbed and will be tested for the presence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). The same location in Torti was sampled in 2007, and there was no evidence for the presence of Bd in 2007.  The current study will show whether or not Torti remains Bd-free in 2010.  Analysis of the skin peptide activity against Bd and bacterial species will demonstrate whether skin peptide defenses and microbial skin communities change when amphibian species come into contact with Bd. These studies will help to suggest which species are most vulnerable to Bd infections and should be the focus of conservation efforts.