Chytrid Fungus in Frogs Research
The mechanism by which the fungus attacks frogs is only now starting to be revealed. In research carried out by a team of scientists mainly from Australia skin samples were taken from healthy and sick green tree frogs to get a handle on the fungi's modus operandi.
They came to the conclusion that Bd kills its amphibious victims by changing their electrolyte balance which results in cardiac arrest. The balance of electrolytes such as sodium and potassium is essential for the normal function of cells and organs of many living things.
In frogs the electrolytes pass through the skin, but in the diseased animals the researchers found that the compounds did not pass through it as readily.
Then the scientists took blood and urine samples from the frogs and observed that the concentrations of sodium and potassium were much lower in diseased frogs. In fact the potassium concentration was down by as much as 50%.
In other animals this kind of electrolyte reduction is known to cause cardiac arrest.
To further reinforce their hypothesis the scientists took electrocardiogram readings of the frogs' hearts a few hours before they died. They detected serious changes in the rhythm.
When the frogs were given drugs to restore their electrolyte balance their health was restored, although this was only for a few hours or days, as they all died in the end.