Deadly frog fungus identified

Nov. 8, 2011 at 5:30 PM

LONDON, Nov. 8 (UPI) -- A fungus decimating the world's frog species comes in several forms and has probably been spread by global trade in amphibians, British researchers say.

The Chytrid fungus is now found on every continent and the chytridiomycosis it causes has wiped out a number of species.

An investigation led by researchers from Imperial College London has found three distinct lineages of the fungus in various nations, the BBC reported Tuesday.

The most common and most deadly form was probably created by a crossing of two prior varieties, researchers said.

"It's safe to say that it arose in the 20th century, and that's in the realm of time for the trade in amphibians," Rhys Farrer, the project leader from Imperial College, said.

The fungus kills amphibians by blocking the transfer of vital substances through their skins, resulting in cardiac arrest.

"Chytrid is one of the most devastating wildlife diseases with the largest host range of any, and responsible for dozens of species extinctions and many more extirpations of local populations," Farrer said.

The fungus is thought to have originated in southern Africa.

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