The barred frogs of Australia’s subtropical rainforests are the focus of a new Griffith University study investigating tolerance as a key animal defence strategy against infectious diseases.

“Globally, infectious diseases are major and increasing threats to biodiversity, human health and domestic animals,’’ says Dr Laura Grogan from the Environmental Futures Research Institute, who has been awarded an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award to conduct the study.

Dr Laura Grogan

“My project focuses on diseases in natural systems, using the devastating amphibian fungal skin disease, chytridiomycosis, as a model,’’ she said.

“By characterising the role and mechanisms of infection tolerance in natural animal systems, it aims todevelop improved strategies for mitigating the impact of infectious diseases in wildlife.

By generating insight intothe pathogenesis of the amphibian fungal skin disease chytridiomycosis it will contribute to theconservation of Australia’s unique endemic amphibian fauna, including the focus of the study, the barred frogs of subtropical rainforests.

“It will improve understanding of the relative importance of tolerance and resistance, and as well as a key insight into the key immune and physiologic mechanisms underlying variations in tolerance.

“Anticipated benefits include improved strategies for mitigating infectious wildlife diseases via identifying targets for therapeutic interventions, ecological management and assisted-evolutionstrategies. This project should also benefit amphibian conservation globally.”

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