The recently discovered species Batrachochytrium salamandivorans (Bsal) is a fungal pathogen of salamanders and newts that has recently spread from Asia into Europe, devastating the fire salamander. The disease is characterized by multifocal superficial erosions and deep ulcerations in the skin of salamanders, with several European species particularly susceptible. Although seemingly unaffected, the Anura (frogs and toads) can also act as Bsal carriers, with anthropogenic trade and inter/intraspecies contact likely spreading the disease. Bsal is closely related to the generalist amphibian pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), which was discovered two decades prior. The genome of Bsal is larger (32 Mb) than that of Bd (23 Mb) and it encodes over 100 metalloprotease M36 genes, correlating with its ulcerative pathology. Further work on the population genetics of Bsal and genetic differences between Bd and Bsal should uncover the mechanisms behind their differences in host specificity, pathology, and epidemiology.
- Batrachochytrium salamandivorans