The phylum Chytridiomycota contains over 750 species of chytrid fungi. Most of the chytrid species are decomposers that break down refractory materials like pollen, cellulose, chitin, and keratin. However, a handful few of the species are parasitic. Most of the parasitic chytrid infect algae, microbes, and even some plants but two species infect vertebrates. The first chytrid species known to infect vertebrates was Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis which is also known as Bd. This species was discovered in 1998 and infects amphibians. It is believed to one of the main causes for the global decline of amphibians. In 2013, another parasitic chytrid fungus was discovered infecting fire salamanders in the Netherlands. This new fungus was identified as Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans or Bs.
Bs and Bd have caused massive declines in amphibian species and may be responsible for the extinction of some amphibians. These are extremely nasty parasites with no known cure of stopping their infections once they attack an amphibian. Several studies have been done on how to combat these fungi. Check out our posts about chytrid research.
Environment Canada has put together some great brochures about salamanders and chytrid and ASA has them available:
- Salamander Chytrid Disease: Information for the general public and pet shop owners. Download HERE.
- Salamander Chytrid Disease: Information for the scientific community. Download HERE.