Infectious Fungus Salamander

By: Shreeya S.

An infection caused by salamanders killed toads and frogs in Europe. It could be spread to the United States, with disastrous effects. Where it originated is still not known. In the case of the frog disappearances, the culprit, a fungus called Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, was not identified until decades after the extinctions had begun. Anxious to know the extent of the new chytrids appetites, scientists from 12 countries joined forces to study the fungus habits, with sobering results. The team reports that in laboratory tests, the fungus exterminated 11 of 17 species of North American and European salamanders. Every infected animal, a total of 50, died, many within a few weeks of infection. Among the victims with 100 percent mortality were the rough-skinned newt, an iconic species common in the Pacific Northwest, and the eastern newt, one of the most widespread salamanders in eastern North America. Where it originated is still not known.