Worldwide, Chytridiomycosis has decimated amphibian populations—even leading to the extinction of several species. The fungus—which infects the skin of amphibians, preventing them from absorbing key nutrients—appears on every continent but new research suggests that this may not have always been the case.
Researchers at the Imperial College London, have identified three distinct lineages of Chytrid. Prior to this study, which utilized the whole-genome sequencing technique, it was not known that different lineages existed. The most common—and most deadly—of the three is the combination of two older strains.
The researchers believe that the fungus originated in Southern Africa and then made its way to Europe, where it combined, mutated, and developed into the scorge it is today.
How does a fungus travel thousands of miles across entire continents? The team believes that it was most likely carried by amphibians that were being traded and sold to zoos and private collectors.
While this discovery does not yet suggest a possible cure for the epidemic, it is hoped that by identifying individual strains, a solution will eventually be found.