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New skin-eating fungus killing Dutch salamanders

Published on Sep 3, 2013 6:04 AM
 
This undated photo courtesy of the Imperial College London shows a fire salamander. A new kind of skin-eating fungus has been identified as the cause of a mass die-off of fire salamanders in Europe, researchers said on Sept 2, 2013 The boldly coloured yellow and black salamanders have dwindled rapidly since 2010, with just four per cent of their original population left. -- PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON, District of Columbia (AFP) - A new kind of skin-eating fungus has been killing fire salamanders in the Netherlands at an alarming rate, European researchers said on Monday.

The boldly coloured yellow and black salamanders have dwindled rapidly since 2010, with just four per cent of their original population left.

Based on an analysis of the dead salamanders, scientists reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a US journal, that they have identified the cause as a fungus called Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans.

This salamander-eating fungus appears to be related to another kind - Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, or Bd - that is blamed for killing more than 40 per cent of amphibian species in parts of Central America, Austria, Europe and North America, or decimating about 200 species worldwide.

 
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