In a paper recently published in the open access peer-reviewed journal PLoS ONE, a study was recorded that examined colonization of a Panamanian frog’s skin by probiotic bacteria. Probiotics are one of several popular methods of amphibian protection from Bd that are currently being explored. Although successful on mountain yellow-legged frogs (Rana muscosa) with the antifungal bacteria Janthinobacterium lividum, this particular study revealed that probiotic inoculation does not always work. The frog that they worked with is one that I met while in Panama, Colostethus panamensis, a frog that is believed to be declining in some parts of its range due to chytrid. Unfortunately, the probiotic bacterium that they used, Lysinibacillus fusiformis, an isolate from C. panamensis, did not take during inoculations. However, bacterial communities did change throughout the study and the treated frogs lost weight compared to the controls (which were bathed in water). This suggests that identifying and inoculating a good probiotic onto an amphibian host is relatively complex and may be affected by a variety of host factors that we still do not fully understand. Still, every bit of information that we get about the microbial communities on amphibian skin may bring us one step closer to finding a way to use probiotics.
Frog: 10, Fungus: 15