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Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans sp nov causes lethal chytridiomycosis in amphibians

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-article

  • An Martel
  • Annemarieke Spitzen-van der Sluijs
  • Mark Blooi
  • Wim Bert
  • Richard Ducatelle
  • Matthew C. Fisher
  • Antonius Woeltjes
  • Wilbert Bosman
  • Koen Chiers
  • Franky Bossuyt
  • Frank Pasmans
The current biodiversity crisis encompasses a sixth mass extinction event affecting the entire class of amphibians. The infectious disease chytridiomycosis is considered one of the major drivers of global amphibian population decline and extinction and is thought to be caused by a single species of aquatic fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. However, several amphibian population declines remain unexplained, among them a steep decrease in fire salamander populations (Salamandra salamandra) that has brought this species to the edge of local extinction. Here we isolated and characterized a unique chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans sp. nov., from this salamander population. This chytrid causes erosive skin disease and rapid mortality in experimentally infected fire salamanders and was present in skin lesions of salamanders found dead during the decline event. Together with the closely related B. dendrobatidis, this taxon forms a well-supported chytridiomycete clade, adapted to vertebrate hosts and highly pathogenic to amphibians. However, the lower thermal growth preference of B. salamandrivorans, compared with B. dendrobatidis, and resistance of midwife toads (Alytes obstetricans) to experimental infection with B. salamandrivorans suggest differential niche occupation of the two chytrid fungi.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPNAS
Volume110
Issue number38
Pages (from-to)15325-15329
Number of pages5
ISSN0027-8424
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17-Sep-2013

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