Quite a bold heading for this blog post. You're probably wondering what on earth this has to do with microbiology-- all will be revealed!
A few days ago I came across an interesting paper in Scientific Reports entitled 'Infection increases vulnerability to climate change via effects on host thermal tolerance'. This paper investigated the link between specific fungal infections in frogs and thermal tolerance.
Fungal diseases in frogs are currently emerging at record rates, which is posing a huge threat to global biodiversity. Infection with the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (shown in the picture on the left) was shown to alter the critical thermal maxima (the temperature at which the organism can no longer survive) of frogs by roughly 4°C.
This leaves the infected frogs vulnerable to temperature changes. Some temperature changes could favour the frog over the parasite- this would would be true for infections caused by cool-loving fungi. This would not be the case for infections caused by thermal tolerant fungi. Longer heat waves that do not allow time for thermal acclimation also pose a risk.
So in conclusion, changing climates could massively impact these populations of frogs. Scary times!