Mushroom sprouting from frog’s side in Western Ghats baffles scientists

04:33 PM Feb 14, 2024 | PTI |

In an intriguing discovery, researchers have stumbled upon a frog in the foothills of Western Ghats sporting an extraordinary feature — a mushroom sprouting from its side.


The finding, described in the journal Reptiles and Amphibians, has left the scientific community intrigued since it is the first time a mushroom has been seen growing in a living amphibian.

The frog, identified as Rao’s Intermediate Golden-backed Frog (Hylarana inter-media), was encountered by a team, including researchers from World Wildlife Fund (WWF), on June 19 last year in Karkala, Karnataka.

This particular species is endemic to the Western Ghats of Karnataka and Kerala, specifically above the Palghat Gap, where it is known to thrive in relative abundance.

The researchers noted approximately 40 of these frogs in a small roadside rainwater-fed pond.


One individual stood out with a distinct outgrowth on its left flank, which upon closer examination, revealed a mushroom sprouting from its side, the researchers said.

The frog was alive and moving despite this unusual appendage, they said.

Further analysis by mycologists identified the mushroom as a species of Bonnet Mushroom (Mycena species), commonly found as a saprotroph on rotting wood.

A saprotroph is an organism that feeds on non-living organic matter.

This finding raises numerous questions regarding the ecological dynamics and potential symbiotic relationships between amphibians and fungi in their natural habitats.

The discovery holds significance beyond its novelty. While fungi are known to play vital roles as saprotrophs or symbionts in ecosystems, their relationship with amphibians has largely been unexplored.

The prognosis for the frog with the mushroom appendage could not be done since it was not captured for further study.

”To the best of our knowledge, never has a mushroom sprouting from the flank of a live frog been documented,” the authors of the study said.

Researchers suspect that the humid, monsoon-fed Western Ghats may have provided an ideal environment for mushroom growth, providing adequate moisture and organic matter.

The research team plans to continue monitoring the area and conduct further studies to unravel the mysteries surrounding this fascinating discovery.

Previous research has found that in amphibians, the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis is known to cause the disease chytridiomycosis, which has affected more than 700 species across the world.

Recent studies have shown that this amphibian killer is present in low levels in all of the frog hotspots across India.


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