Cocoon and Epidermis of Australian Cyclorana Frogs Differ in Composition of Lipid Classes That Affect Water Loss

Leslie Sadowski-Fugitt, Christopher Tracy, Keith Christian, Joseph Williams

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    20 Downloads (Pure)


    For amphibians to survive in environments that experience annual droughts, they must minimize evaporative water loss. One genus of Australian hylid frogs, Cyclorana, prevents desiccation by burrowing in the soil and forming cocoons composed of alternating layers of shed epidermis and glandular secretions. Previous data are inconclusive about the role that lipids play in reducing evaporative water loss through skin (cutaneous water loss [CWL]) when Cyclorana spp. are within cocoons. In this study, we measured CWL and lipids in the epidermis and in cocoons of five species of Cyclorana. CWL was significantly lower in frogs within cocoons than in frogs without cocoons. Surface-area-specific CWL for the three small species was significantly higher than that of the two larger species of Cyclorana, but this difference was not apparent in frogs within cocoons. Although lipids were responsible formore of the dry mass of the epidermis (approximately 20%) than of the cocoons (approximately 7%) we found that cerebrosides and ceramides, two polar lipid classes, were almost exclusively found in cocoons. This suggests that these lipid classes are in the glandular secretions rather than in the epidermis. Because these polar lipids are the types that reduce water loss in birds (cerebrosides and ceramides) and mammals (ceramides), we conclude that they are important not only for holding together the shed layers of skin but also for contributing to the barrier against water loss.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)40-50
    Number of pages11
    JournalPhysiological and Biochemical Zoology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


    Dive into the research topics of 'Cocoon and Epidermis of Australian Cyclorana Frogs Differ in Composition of Lipid Classes That Affect Water Loss'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this