Scientists are using “IVF for frogs” to try and help many endangered species thrive once again.
Dr Phillip Byrne from the University of Wollongong will be chatting about his team’s research over a bevvy at The Illawarra Brewery next week.
Dr Byrne and his team, co-led by Dr Aimee Silla, at the Evolution and Assisted Reproduction Laboratory (EARL) have been working on developing sophisticated assisted reproductive technologies to help threatened species of certain frogs breed.
They’ve also been looking into how adding antioxidants to a frog’s diet can make them more efficient hoppers and build up their immunity to help fight disease.
“Critically endangered species such as the Southern Corroboree frog [are] now officially extinct in the wild. The only ones out there are ones that have been put back through captive breeding and reintroduction programs.
“What we’re trying to do is assist with reproduction of those species in captivity so we can bolster numbers for release,” he said.
“Effectively what we’re doing is using hormones … to release of sperm and eggs that we can ultimately combine using in vitro fertilisation protocols, so IVF for frogs.”
Dr Byrne said most people probably wouldn’t realise how dire the situation is for Australian frogs with around 30 per cent of species now threatened - and that number is increasing every year.
Two species found in parts of the Illawarra are now endangered, the Red Crown Toadlett and the Green and Golden Bell frog.
The three biggest factors attributed to the decimation of the amphibians are all by human hands: an introduced fungus, habitat destruction and pollution.
Dr Byrne hopes by being part of the Uni in the Brewery series he can give the public an insight into UOW research in a low-key setting and help raise awareness of bigger issues such as conservation.
The ongoing research has also discovered frogs have “personalities”, in that individuals show repetitive behaviors like being more exploratory or adventurous to others compared to some frogs that are more timid.
Future research will tie this in to whether a frog’s personality has anything to do with choosing a mate to procreate.
Uni in the Brewery, Wednesday September 28 from 5:30pm at The Illawarra Brewery - Eastern Terrace, WIN Entertainment Centre Cnr Crown and Harbour St.
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