Nature Ramble

What man is doing by transporting animals around the world…

Newt flesh fungus ‘brought by pets’

The fungus causes skin lesions like those on the lips of this fire salamander

Zoologists say a skin-eating fungus threatens salamanders and newts across Europe, and probably arrived on pet amphibians imported from Asia.

It was discovered in the Netherlands in 2013 after wiping out all but 10 of the country’s fire salamanders.

Now tests show that the fungus causes deadly skin diseases in many related species, but not those from Asia.

The findings, published in Science, suggest that the fungus coexisted with Asian salamanders for 30 million years.

Researchers from Imperial College and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) collaborated on the study with teams in the Netherlands and Belgium.

The parasitic fungus, called Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, is related to another fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) that causes a similar disease in frogs and other amphibians, mostly in the tropics.

According to the new study, the recently discovered “B. sal” does not affect frogs or toads but kills a wide variety of salamanders.

It rapidly invades and eats an animal’s skin, which is crucial to its survival because it helps it to breathe.

“Most of the salamander species that come into contact with this fungus die within weeks,” said lead author Prof An Martel from Ghent University, Belgium.

“There appear to be no real barriers that prevent the spread of the fungus throughout Europe.”

Source: BBCNews Read and see more

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