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Fungal Attacks on Amphibians

In the PNAS Early Edition this week, researchers at San Francisco State University and the Univeristy of California, Berkeley, implicate the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis as a key contributor to the decline of certain amphibian species. Using a non-invasive sampling technique on formalin-preserved museum specimens "collected before, during, and after major amphibian decline events" followed by real-time PCR, the team detected "a pattern of Bd emergence coincident with decline," the team reports. Tina Cheng, lead author on the study, tells the San Francisco Chronicle that "what's so alarming is that Bd attacks so many species that some are now close to becoming extinct." Cheng and her team have tested more than 1,000 specimens to date, and she adds that they plan to document the spread of the disease going forward.