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New fungus species found killing salamanders

A second, hidden chytrid species attacks amphibians

By
4:11pm, September 3, 2013

UNDER ATTACK  One of Europe's fire salamander species, Salamandra salamandra (shown), is under attack from a newly discovered fungus.

The rogue chytrid fungus that has devastated more than 200 kinds of amphibians worldwide has an accomplice: a second species that researchers have discovered attacking fire salamanders.

Populations of frogs, salamanders and their relatives have been dwindling worldwide, and in 1999 scientists identified a surprising contributing factor – the fungus now nicknamed Bd. This Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis was the first member of the phylum of fungi called chytrids found to attack, and often kill, vertebrates. Now genetic tests have identified a second vertebrate-killing chytrid, the newly named Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans.

Researchers found the new fungus when volunteers reported a population crash in a yellow-and-black fire salamander, Salamandra salamandra, in the Netherlands. Numbers of salamanders fell to 4 percent of previous population levels in just three years. But genetic tests failed to find Bd,

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