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Aug 11, 2015

AKRON, OH - AUGUST 04: A bull frog is seen near the pond on the third hole during the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club on August 4, 2015 in Akron, Ohio. (Photo by Stan Badz/PGA TOUR) Getty Images

AKRON, OH – AUGUST 04: A bull frog is seen near the pond on the third hole during the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club on August 4, 2015 in Akron, Ohio. (Photo by Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
Getty Images

PUBLISHED MON, AUGUST 10, 2015 – 4:08PM EDT BNO News

Scientists have identified a highly infectious tadpole disease that is found in a diverse range of frog populations across the world, potentially posing a further threat to frog populations that are already in decline or at risk of extinction. A study led by the University of Exeter and the Natural History Museum discovered a previously unidentified parasite that was present in tadpole livers from six countries across three continents, in both tropical and temperate sites. Infectious disease is a significant factor in the decline of global frog populations, but it is still unclear whether the new parasite causes significant disease. [press release attached]

  Press release from the University of Exeter (click to expand)

Newly identified tadpole disease found across the globe

Scientists have found that a newly identified and highly infectious tadpole disease is found in a diverse range of frog populations across the world

Scientists have found that a newly identified and highly infectious tadpole disease is found in a diverse range of frog populations across the world. The discovery sheds new light on some of the threats facing fragile frog populations, which are in decline worldwide.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, led by the University of Exeter and the Natural History Museum, describes the molecular methods used to test frog tadpoles for a newly identified infectious agent.

Tadpoles from six countries across three continents were tested for ‘protists’ – single celled microbes with complex cells which store their DNA in a nucleus, like human cells. The previously unidentified parasite was present in tadpole livers in both tropical and temperate sites, and across all continents tested. The infectious agent was identified as a distant relative of Perkinsea sp., a marine parasites found in animals and algae.

Professor Thomas Richards from the University of Exeter said: “Global frog populations are suffering serious declines and infectious disease has been shown to be a significant factor. Our work has revealed a previously unidentified microbial group that infects tadpole livers in frog populations across the globe.”

“We now need to figure out if this novel microbe – a distant relative of oyster parasites – causes significant disease and could be contributing to the frog population declines.”

It is widely recognised that amphibians are among the most threatened animal groups: for example, in 2008, 32% of species were listed as ‘threatened or extinct’ and 42% were listed as in decline. The decline of amphibian populations, particularly frogs, is thought to suggest that Earth is currently undergoing a sixth mass extinction event.

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