A chytrid fungus called Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis
has been responsible for the deaths of many amphibian species, and the spate of deaths has been increasing since the 1980s. The fungus was first isolated infecting frogs across several countries. The latest step has seen the disease spread to the Netherlands, where it has affected the fire salamander population in the Netherlands.
The fungus causes the disease chytridiomycosi, and it only seems to affect amphibians. The fungus eats through the skin, exposing the creatures to deadly bacteria and viruses. An Martel, a biologist at Ghent University in Belgium, told New Scientist that
"It causes ulceration and holes in the skin and kills within just 12 days."
Scientists are concerned about the spread of the disease and the rate of infections. In a statement, the lead research group looking into the disease, based at Imperial College London, said in a research brief
that "We need to act urgently to determine what populations are in danger and how best to protect them."
The latest research into the fungus has been published
in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
. The paper is titled "Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans sp. nov.
causes lethal chytridiomycosis in amphibians."