I just realized that I have not yet discussed the actual experiment that I am working on in Panama, so I will briefly highlight what I have been doing here. My project is tied in with that of another undergraduate in Reid Harris‘s lab from James Madison University, Will Shoemaker, who is studying environmental and horizontal transmission of probiotics in tadpoles. I am using a very similar experimental protocol, but dealing with the transmission of Bd instead. However, before I can study transmission, I have been seeing if red-eyed tree frog (Agalychnis callidryas) tadpoles can even be infected by the amphibian chytrid fungus and at what concentration of zoospores.
For the first part of my experiment I have been exposing A. callidryas tadpoles to different concentrations of Bd solution. Shockingly enough, quite a few tadpoles in the high level treatment have died with their guts spilling out of their bodies. A couple have even died in the low level treatments, but all of the controls are still fine. It remains to be seen if it really is the chytrid fungus that is killing my tadpoles so gruesomely, but I suspect that it is. Next Monday, the infection experiment comes to an end and then the transmission part begins. More information on that later. 😉