In the holiday spirit, a paper published on 26 December 2013 brings good tidings and hope for combatting the amphibian chytrid fungus. In Europe, ciliates and rotifers, tiny predatory microorganisms, were shown to prey on Bd zoospores. Rotifers are known affectionately as “wheel animalcules” by scientists because that is what Anton van Leeuwenhoek called the first organisms he saw in the microscope. They are tiny microorganisms with ciliated spinning coronas that they use to filter food into their mouths. Ciliates are protozoans with cilia surrounding their body that help them to move. They reduced the presence of Bd in experimental conditions.
Here is a little comedic diagram to very roughly illustrate the general appearance of ciliates, rotifers and Bd zoospores. (Apologies for the sketch quality – I don’t actually have an art pen and tablet, so I have to use the mouse pad on my laptop for computer drawings). Rotifers and ciliates are very widespread in freshwater habitats so if they are generally able to consume Bd zoospores, that is good news for amphibians.
Frog: 9, Fungus: 14