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Research team explores how microbial diversity defends against disease

Amphibians are among the most threatened creatures on earth, with some 40 percent of amphibian species threatened or endangered. One of their primary threats is a rapidly spreading disease that attacks the skin cells of amphibians. "Chytridiomycosis, a fungal disease, has been a key factor in the extinctions of many species of frogs around the world," said Lisa Belden, associate professor of biological sciences in the College of Science at Virginia Tech.

Belden is leading a team of researchers from Tech, James Madison University, Villanova University, and the Smithsonian Institution who will study the microbial communities living on the skins of frogs that are surviving the fungal scourge. The effort is one of 11 new Dimensions of Biodiversity projects funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) with the aim of transforming, by 2020, "how scientists describe and understand the scope and role of life on earth," according to an NSF news release.

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