A deadly fungus afflicting amphibians arose in Korea, spread via human trade

May 10, 2018

The origins of a deadly fungus, which for decades has contributed to a global decline of numerous amphibian populations, has been traced to the Korean peninsula, a new study reports. The data provide a more complete picture of how the fungus spread from region to region, and underscore how, over the past century, human trade of amphibian species has accelerated the spread of the disease. The fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis causes a deadly disease called chytridiomycosis in amphibians. It was first identified in the 1970s, at which point it was increasingly detected in regions around the world, on nearly every continent. However, decades after B. dendrobatidis was first recognized, the geographic origin of the pathogen and timing of its worldwide expansion remain hotly contested, due to inconsistent results from previously studies. To resolve these inconsistencies, Simon O'Hanlon et al. isolated and genetically sequenced 177 samples of B. dendrobatidis across regions, combining their new data with previously published genomes. The data reveal that all strains share the most overlap with a strain called BdASIA-1, found on the Korean peninsula, which suggests that the pathogen originated there. Analysis of the various B. dendrobatidis strains and their relatedness suggests that the pathogen likely arose around the early 20th century, which coincides with the global expansion in amphibian trade (for exotic pet, medical, and food purposes), the authors note; indeed, they identified 10 events where traded amphibians were infected. Further investigation revealed that some strains are more virulent than others, yet population-level outcomes are also context-dependent, the authors report. Karen Lips provides more context in a related Perspective.

American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related Amphibians Articles from Brightsurf:

In the Cerrado, topography explains the genetic diversity of amphibians more than land cover
Study shows that a tree frog endemic to a mountainous region of the Brazilian savanna is unable to disperse and find genetically closer mates when the terrain is rugged, potentially endangering survival of the species

Earliest example of a rapid-fire tongue found in 'weird and wonderful' extinct amphibians
Fossils of bizarre, armored amphibians known as albanerpetontids provide the oldest evidence of a slingshot-style tongue, a new Science study shows.

A species identified in 2016 as an ancient form of chameleon was misidentified at that time, say researchers
A species identified in 2016 as an ancient form of chameleon was misidentified at that time, say researchers, many of whom were part of the original 2016 report.

Venom glands similar to those of snakes are found for first time in amphibians
Brazilian researchers discover that caecilians, limbless amphibians resembling worms or snakes that emerged some 150 million years before the latter, can probably inject venom into their prey while biting.

Climate crisis ages fish, amphibians and reptiles
Climatic conditions are changing at an unprecedented rate, affecting mainly fish, amphibians and reptiles, ectothermic animals that are unable to generate their own internal heat.

Dehydration increases amphibian vulnerability to climate change
Amphibians have few options to avoid the underappreciated one-two punch of climate change, according to a new study from Simon Fraser University researchers and others.

First evidence of snake-like venom glands found in amphibians
Caecilians are limbless amphibians that can be easily mistaken for snakes.

'Fang'tastic: researchers report amphibians with snake-like dental glands
Utah State University biologist Edmund 'Butch' Brodie, Jr. and colleagues from Brazil's Butantan Institute describe oral glands in a family of terrestrial caecilians, serpent-like amphibians related to frogs and salamanders.

Microplastics affect the survival of amphibians and invertebrates in river ecosystems
In collaboration with the National Museum of Natural Sciences (CSIC) in Madrid, the UPV/EHU's Stream Ecology research group has conducted two parallel studies to look at how the larvae of one freshwater amphibian and one invertebrate evolved during 15 days' exposure to microplastics at different concentrations.

Zoology: Biofluorescence may be widespread among amphibians
Biofluorescence, where organisms emit a fluorescent glow after absorbing light energy, may be widespread in amphibians including salamanders and frogs, according to a study in Scientific Reports.

Read More: Amphibians News and Amphibians Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.