Can frogs teach us how to stay healthy? These scientists think so | KLBK | KAMC


LUBBOCK, Texas (press release) – The following is a press release from Texas Tech University:

Can frogs’ ability to survive certain infections help humans to do the same? Texas University of Technology‘s Lisa Liméri is part of a new research collaboration seeking to answer this question.

The partnership, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), will examine the resilience demonstrated by amphibians and other groups of species to the emergence and spread of new infectious diseases, as well as other changes caused by the man to the global ecosystem. The team will study what allowed amphibians to bounce back from outbreaks, using this group of species as a model to understand how resilience occurs in other living systems.

These questions will be at the heart of Resilience Institute Bridging Biological Training and Research (RIBBiTR), a new center at the University of Pittsburgh funded by an NSF grant of $ 12.5 million over five years and involving researchers from the University of Alabama; University of California, Berkeley; University of California, Santa Barbara; University of Massachusetts, Boston; University of Mississippi; University of Nevada, Reno; Temple University; University of Tennessee; and Vanderbilt University Medical Center, in addition to Texas Tech.

“I am excited about this project because combining research and teaching assignments is a cutting edge research-based strategy,” said Limeri, assistant professor at Texas Tech. Department of Biological Sciences. “This program will not only advance research in this important area, but it will simultaneously effectively educate the next generation of scientists in an equitable and inclusive manner. “

Corinne Richards-Zawacki of the University of Pittsburgh, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, will lead the work as a principal investigator. Collaborating scientists have conducted a series of research papers over the years, most recently published in a Royal Society journal in June titled “Divergent regional evolutionary stories of a devastating global amphibian pathogen. “

“Because we have a lot of data over time from around the world on which amphibians are doing better now than they were after the initial outbreaks, they are great for studying resilience,” said Richards-Zawacki. “We can ask ourselves many questions: what mechanisms make them capable of living with their pathogens? Are pathogens changing? What is the impact of the different environments? If we understand how the relationship has changed between species and threat, we can consider how resilience can be applied to other biological systems.

The institute is part of NSF’s strategy to build large research teams across disciplines and regions to study the principles of “rules of life” – fundamental life processes spanning biomes to the entire Earth. This initiative aims to focus on resilience as such a ‘rule’, applying what they learn about amphibian recovery from a newly emerged fungus to understand how other living systems can bounce back from the factors. stress of global change. The study subjects will be amphibians from sites in Brazil, Panama, the Sierra Nevada of California and the Pymatuning Lab of Ecology at the University of Pittsburgh in northwestern Pennsylvania.

In addition to research that spans many disciplines in biology, the team is tasked with developing programs and programs that will train the next generation of biologists to also integrate their approach to their science. As a specialist in teaching biology, Limeri will assess the educational components of RIBBiTR’s mission, including undergraduate courses based on research on resilience in amphibious communities and graduate courses based on the ground.

At the University of Pittsburgh, one such course-based undergraduate research experiment will be studying the components of frog mud that help frogs fight off their pathogens.

So why should we care about frogs?

“The skin and secretions of amphibians can have medicinal properties,” said Richards-Zawacki. “They are also canaries in the coal mine for environmental impacts, in part because they have thin skin and are exposed to contaminants both in water and on land, so they share threats with d ‘other organizations. “

Other principal investigators participating in RIBBiTR are: Gui Becker, Alabama; Erica Bree Rosenblum, University of Berkeley; Cherie Briggs, Roland Knapp and Thomas Smith, UCSB; Doug Woodhams, UMass Boston; Michel Ohmer, Mississippi; Jamie Voyles, Nevada-Reno; Emily Le Sage, Temple; Mark Wilber, Tennessee; and Louise Rollins-Smith, Vanderbilt.

(Texas Tech University press release)


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