Student Placement: The door creaks back open – week 3

The latest blog post from our placement student George Campbell studying frogs in Colombia!

frogtastic blog

We complain about temperamental weather in England but even we don’t have it quite as extreme as it is here, it seems. Last night there was thunder, yesterday it was boiling hot and the night before it was torrential rain. Right now it’s cold but 5 minutes ago it was T-shirt & shorts weather…I keep getting reminded that Pamplona only has two seasons: wet and dry. So far they only have one though: random, and I guess this is where being a Brit comes in helpful as you naturally have to leave the house prepared for any and every possibility.

The town of Pamplona from the Universities viewpoint during the day:

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And later that night:

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Neither photos really do justice to either the weather at its best or worst, which had my landlady praying to god that the roof holds out. It did.

Anyway, that’s the British conversation starter of…

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Hola!

Check out this first blog post from one of our placement students studying frogs outs in Pamplona, Colombia!

frogtastic blog

So….first things first, welcome to my blog-family, friends, University of Manchester students and people who were trying to find the blog with the worst pun name!

In my first post I’m going to briefly outline what I’ll be doing on placement as I know my answers were fairly poor (at best) when people asked me before. And also where it is! In future posts I hope to cover what I’m doing on a daily basis in more depth & what it is like working here in Pamplona, Colombia. And also my attempts at learning a language that I’ve not really been taught before by jumping in head first and moving to somewhere where they only speak Spanish-because why the hell not?

For those of you that don’t know already-I’m a genetics student at the University of Manchester. Part of my degree programme allows for a ‘year in industry’ between 2nd &…

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Could bacteria help save amphibians?

Faculty members have teamed up with the Institute of Zoology to investigate the effectiveness of probiotic bacteria in treating Chytrid (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) – a fungus that is devastating global frog populations.

Chytrid is a fungus that is thought to be the reason why over 200 different species of frog have gone extinct. This has resulted in 31% of all amphibian species becoming ‘threatened’ according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

A Belize frog, courtesy of Dr R Antwis.

The team, led by former PhD student Dr Rachael Antwis, used bacteria taken from frogs in Belize to investigate the potential benefits of using probiotic bacteria in the treatment of Chytrid. Whilst previous studies have shown that certain bacteria that live on an amphibian’s skin have slowed down the progression of Chytrid, probiotics have not been used in long term field studies.

In assessing the efficacy of probiotics, the team used bacteria on a number of different strains of the disease. Chytrid mutates extremely quickly, so the bacteria must be able to treat different forms of the virus to be effective in the wild. Early results from this investigation suggest that a combination of different bacteria will increase the probability of halting the progression of Chytrid.

The paper resulting from this study, published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, will act as an important basis for future research into the use of bacteria to help fight Chytrid.

Dr Antwis concludes:

“A lot more work is definitely needed before we can identify an effective cure for this devastating disease. But as a scientist, I believe we not only have a moral obligation to keep searching, but an ecological one too. Amphibians inhabit the middle of food chain, making up a vital part of our ecosystem. If they go, then that could spell disaster for many more species.”