With the help of postdoctoral assistant Antje Lauer and his students, Harris is continuing work to isolate the most effective antifungal bacteria and grow them in the lab. Of the two he has tested so far, one (Pedobacter cryoconitis) has speeded the recovery of infected animals while the other (Pseudomonas reactans) has tended to slow the process, at least on the salamanders.
"There will have to be careful testing," say Harris. "Just because on the Petri plate you find a species of bacteria that is anti-chytrid doesn't mean it's going to be anti-chytrid on the amphibian. So we're going to have to do some tests to make sure which ones are actually most affective on the organism. But we did find one."
Eventually, the research could lead to procedures for "vaccinating" endangered populations, Harris said. Other questions, such as whether bacteria from one species could be used to help another, also could be addressed with future research.