top of page



What's the problem?

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 to biodiversity at the present time
(Wake and Vredenburg 2008). In Central America, species like the
Panamanian Golden Frog can no longer be found in the wild
because of Bd


Bd is has been detected on the island of Madagascar, but it is
uncertain whether it is a lethal strain.  It is possible for a lethal strain
of this pathogen to arrive at any time (Lotters et al. 2008, Vredenburg
et al. 2012).  Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot, home to over 400
species of frogs. The map shows the areas where Bd will thrive in
red, which is also where most of the frogs live (Lotters et al. 2011). 
Bd has spread rapidly around the world, so we predict that 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.

What can be done?

                                                   People consume yogurt to restore a beneficial microbial community                                                    in our guts and protect us from disease. The same concept works                                                          for frogs! 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 (Harris et al. 2009 a,b, Becker et al. 2009,                                                Vredenburg et al. 2011, Muletz et al. 2012). Our goal is to develop probiotic conservation strategies using our recently developed six-phase filtering protocols to preserve Madagascar's remarkable amphibian biodiversity (Bletz et al. 2013).

Why are frogs important?


Frogs are vital members of the ecosystem.

  • Tadpoles are important for cycling essential nutrients,
    including carbon and nitrogen in ecosystems.

  • Tadpoles and frogs are critical links in the food chain.

  • Frogs are one of the best natural controllers of biological
    pests, such as mosquitoes

Frogs have value to humans.

  • Frogs provide important food resources in some cultures.

  • Frogs produce compounds that reduce high blood pressure,
    relieve pain and inhibit HIV.

  • Frogs stimulate economies through ecotourism.

What are the conservation implications?


Probiotic disease mitigation for wildlife is a new conservation frontier (Bletz et al. 2013).  Significant progress has been made in the field of probiotics as a possible tool for mitigating amphibian chytridiomycosis in the laboratory and in the field. Applying these techniques before the arrival of Bd is still a novel concept, but is well worth investigating in Madagascar.  Probiotic conservation strategies offer the possibility of conserving species while keeping then in their native habitats. This is important because the capacity does not exist to house all the species that need to be protected from Bd.  Finding effective probiotics for frogs has the potential to prevent catastrophic declines in Madagascar.  If Bd-associated declines are , we aim to have a bank of local probiotics that can stem the devastation of the spreading pathogen.  Preserving frog populations is critical to the ecosystems and for the people of Madagascar

red areas = high Bd risk

Mission: through solid research and effective collaboration, we are seeking to find beneficial bacteria (i.e. probiotics) that can protect endangered amphibian species and amphibian communities from skin pathogens in Madagascar.

bottom of page