Graduate Program: M.S. Thesis
Working with animals has always been a passion of mine and more specifically, understanding
the host pathogen interactions that species encounter in wild populations. The disease
chytridiomycosis, caused by the fungal pathogen, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis has been wiping out frog populations on every country except Antarctica. Recent research
has focused on the use of anti-fungal treatments and probiotic bacteria to treat Bd infection; I will be integrating probiotic bacteria such as Janthinobacterium lividum and Pseudomonas fluorescens which have been shown to inhibit Bd on amphibian species that have resistance to mitigate the disease. However, amphibian
immunity is like a puzzle and acquired probiotic bacteria from the environment are
not the only pieces to defend against Bd infection.
The innate amphibian immune response to Bd infection serves as the first line of defense against pathogens and this includes
antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) that are secreted from the granular glands of amphibians
when pathogens encounter their epidermal tissues. There are several families of AMPs
that inhibit Bd growth in laboratory inhibition assays. Hence, I will be testing for not only the
effects of probiotic treatments on disease susceptibility but also the crosstalk that
may occur between the innate and acquired amphibian immune responses to Bd infection.