Researchers identify new shell-eating fungus in turtles

Researchers have pinpointed a fungal disease previously unknown to science as the culprit responsible for eroding the shells of freshwater turtles. “By causing damage to the shell, it essentially could be a portal by which bacteria could enter and make an animal sick,” said Karen Terio a clinical professor and chief of the Zoological Pathology Program at the University of Illinois and co-author of a study published recently in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology funded by the Morris Animal Foundation, which seeks to bridge science and resources to advance animal health. Lesions caused by the fungus Emydomyces testavorans on the shell of a western pond turtle. ©Dan Woodburn Several years back Terio and her co-authors had been finding a number of lesions in the shells of species like red-eared sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans), western pond turtles (Actinemys marmorata) and even mata mata turtles (Chelus fimbriata) from South America. They went back and found similar cases from the early 2000s and before, and wanted to determine the cause of these lesions. Researchers took samples from 70 turtles, living and dead. While initial polymerase chain reaction-based testing was difficult, they managed to isolate the fungus responsible for these turtle shell lesions. They … Continue reading Researchers identify new shell-eating fungus in turtles