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Bacteria used to target frog epidemic

In a push to save thousands of mountain frogs threatened by a deadly fungal epidemic, biologists are treating hundreds of High Sierra tadpoles with an experimental bacterium they hope will preserve the species.

The scientists this week backpacked over Bishop Pass into famed Dusy Basin, 11,300 feet high in Kings Canyon National Park, carrying plastic bottles filled with a purple soup of microbes that could make the infant frogs immune to the dreaded chytrid fungus disease that is spreading swiftly across the amphibian world.

"This is crisis biology," said Vance Vredenburg, an amphibian expert at San Francisco State University who has been researching the epidemic since it was first detected killing countless thousands of mountain yellow-legged frogs (Rana muscosa) in the Sierra Nevada 10 years ago.

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