Amphibian killer forces immune-cell suicides

Fungal menace shuts down key parts of defenses of frogs and their kin

By Susan Milius, 14:34 PM October 14, 2013

A skin fungus that has swept around the globe killing frogs and their relatives can make key players in amphibian immune systems kill themselves.

The fungus nicknamed Bd (for Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis)has flummoxed biologists because the little skin bumps it causes in susceptible amphibians look inconsequential. Yet this member of the chytrid fungi can kill a wide range of animals, some within days.  

Part of Bd’s power comes from compounds in its cell walls that disable amphibian immune c...

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