Recent introduction of a chytrid fungus endangers Western Palearctic salamanders

A Martel (Corresponding Author), M Blooi, C Adriaensen, P Van Rooij, W Beukema, M C Fisher, R A Farrer, B R Schmidt, U Tobler, K Goka, K R Lips, C Muletz, K R Zamudio, J Bosch, S Lötters, E Wombwell, T W J Garner, A A Cunningham, A Spitzen-van der Sluijs, S SalvidioR Ducatelle, K Nishikawa, T T Nguyen, J E Kolby, I Van Bocxlaer, F Bossuyt, F Pasmans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

394 Citations (Scopus)


Emerging infectious diseases are reducing biodiversity on a global scale. Recently, the emergence of the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans resulted in rapid declines in populations of European fire salamanders. Here, we screened more than 5000 amphibians from across four continents and combined experimental assessment of pathogenicity with phylogenetic methods to estimate the threat that this infection poses to amphibian diversity. Results show that B. salamandrivorans is restricted to, but highly pathogenic for, salamanders and newts (Urodela). The pathogen likely originated and remained in coexistence with a clade of salamander hosts for millions of years in Asia. As a result of globalization and lack of biosecurity, it has recently been introduced into naïve European amphibian populations, where it is currently causing biodiversity loss.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)630-631
Number of pages2
Issue number6209
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2014

Bibliographical note

We thank M. Schenkel and J. Beukema for providing samples and the National Museum of Natural History–Naturalis, Leiden, Netherlands, for providing museum specimens. We thank the many amphibian breeders (including S. Bogaerts, M. Sparreboom, H. Janssen, F. Maillet, A. Jamin, and S. Voitel) who provided offspring to conduct the infection experiments. Financial support was partly provided by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and by the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, project grant FC1195. M.B. is funded by a Dehousse grant from the Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp. P.V.R. is funded by Ghent University Special Research Fund (BOF13/PDO/130). F.P. and T.W.J.G. are funded by the Morris Animal Foundation (D12z0-002). M.C.F. and T.W.J.G. are funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). R.A.F. is supported by the Wellcome Trust. U.T. and B.R.S. are funded by the Vontobel Stiftung, Janggen-Pöhn Stiftung, Basler Stiftung für biologische Forschung, Stiftung Dr. Joachim De Giacomi, Zoo Zürich, Grün Stadt Zürich, European Union of Aquarium Curators, and Zürcher Tierschutz. J.B. is funded by Fundación General CSIC and Banco Santander. E.W. is funded by Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)-NERC Interdisciplinary Ph.D. studentship. A.A.C. is supported by a Royal Society Wolfson research merit award. K.N. is funded by grants from the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, Japan (nos. 20770066 and 23770084) and Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) AA Core-to-Core program Type B. Asia-Africa Science Platforms. T.T.N. is funded by the JSPS RONPAKU program. F.B. is supported by European Research Council Starting Grant 204509 [project Tracing Antimicrobial Peptides and Pheromones in the Amphibian Skin (TAPAS)]. I.V.B is supported by a postdoctoral Fellowship from the Fonds voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek Vlaanderen (FWO). All data described in the paper are presented in the supplementary materials.


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