Researchers build comprehensive global map of chytrid fungus

This Rhacophorus bimaculatus frog, a native of the Philippines that makes its home in the misty spray zones beneath waterfalls, is one of the many frog species imperiled by the deadly chytrid fungus.
©Rafe Brown and Jason Fernandez

Researchers have created the most comprehensive map yet of the spread of the deadly chytrid fungus pathogen. The map lays out the locations and timeframes of appearances of the pathogen among amphibian populations around the world. Chytrid has wiped out entire populations of amphibians. Researchers hope a better knowledge of its distribution can help prevent its spread. “An invisible aspect of globalization is that when we move plants and animals around, we are moving their diseases around, and that can have really devastating consequences,” said Erica Bree Rosenblum, an associate professor of environmental science, policy and management at the University of California, Berkeley and one of the co-authors of the study published recently in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “If we know what lineages are where, we can better predict conservation outcomes, because some of these lineages are really deadly, and others less so.” In the course of their research, she and her colleagues discovered a previously unknown lineage of chytrid originating in Asia that may be the oldest variant yet discovered.

Read more at Berkeley News.