An international research team has revealed that the Korean Peninsula is the source of the fungus responsible for the disappearance of amphibians. The research team included more than 37 scientific institutions, which have analyzed more than 230 samples of the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatids (amphibian killer fungus) and sequenced its genome.
The results, which were recently published in Science magazine, reveal the existence of four genetic lineages. Three are distributed throughout the world, while the fourth is found only in frogs native to the Korean Peninsula. The Korean lineage is the closest to the fungus’ ancestor who originated all the current lineages of the modern-day fungus and presents greater genetic diversity than the rest.
Researchers urge a ban on the trade in amphibians as pets to ensure the survival of vulnerable species
Genetic tools have made it possible to discover that, contrary to popular belief, the disease has spread throughout the world mainly in the last 50-120 years, coinciding with the expansion of global trade for animals as pets.
“Paradoxically, the same globalized world that we have been living in for a long time allows us to have pets from the other side of the world in our homes, it can cause our children to never get to know many of the species that have been living with humans for thousands of years,” lamented the researcher Jaime Bosch, discoverer of the first outbreak caused by this fungus in Europe and one of the signatories of the study.
Korean Peninsula is found to be the source of the amphibian killer fungus that threatens amphibians all over the world
Less than four years ago scientists discovered the existence of Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, a second species of the fungus, that is devastating the central European populations of salamanders.
Having deciphered the genome and the lineages, the fungus is “a first step towards curing it and, until that moment comes, it is essential to try to stop its expansion”, concluded Bosch.
Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, known as the amphibian killer fungus, has been identified as the cause of widespread decline and extinction of frogs, toads, newts, and other amphibian species worldwide.
The amphibian killer fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis), original from Korean Peninsula, according to recent studies, is transmitted from one animal to another and spreads rapidly through nature, causing catastrophic mortalities in many amphibian species.