Frogs can grow more legs if infected with a parasite
- Do you know that a frog can have more legs if infected with a parasite?
- Parasites can change the structure of their host.
- For example, some trematodes can cause limb malformations in amphibians.
- Researchers examined the relationship between morphological abnormalities in amphibians and the abundance of trematode parasites infection.
- The research covered parts of California, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and Montana.
- Researchers studied malformations at frequencies ranging between 1 to 90 percent in nine amphibian species.
- Researchers discovered that Ribeiroia ondatrae was linked to higher occurrence of amphibian limb malformations.
- The parasite can be found mostly around the basal tissue of the hind limbs in infected frogs.
- The malformations included skin webbings, more limbs and digits, and missing/malformed hind limbs.
- Amphibians without the parasite showed significantly less occurrence of abnormalities.
- The species that exhibited the highest abnormality frequencies include Ambystoma macrodactylum, Hyla regilla, Rana aurora, R. luteiventris, and Taricha torosa.
- Water quality did not show significant relationship with the malformations.
- The snail Planorbella were significant predictors of the presence of Ribeiroia infection.
- The discovery demonstrated that Ribeiroia infection is the cause of amphibian malformations of the limbs in the western United States.
Johnson, Pieter & Lunde, Kevin & Thurman, Earl & Ritchie, Euan & Wray, Simon & Sutherland, Daniel & Kapfer, Joshua & Frest, Terrence & Bowerman, Jay & Blaustein, Andrew. (2002). Parasite (Ribeiroia ondatrae) Infection Linked to Amphibian Malformations in the Western United States. Ecological Monographs. 72. 151-168. 10.2307/3100022.