Connecting students to their world through natural history science


Team 8 – Linh Chi & Van Anh – Thuc Nghiem High School

Project name: Threat evaluation of fungal strains on Vietnamese salamander populations

Emerging infectious diseases play a significant role in the current biodiversity crisis. Of these, fungi comprise a greater threat relative to other taxonomic classes of pathogens and have recently caused some of the most severe die-offs and extinctions among a wide range of organisms. The classical cause of amphibian chytridiomycosis, the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, is regarded the greatest infectious threat ever recorded to biodiversity due to its propensity to drive a high proportion of the amphibian species of a regional fauna to extinction. The disease has caused the rapid decline or extinction of at least an estimated 200 amphibian species, which is probably even an underestimation of the problem. Recently, the scientists were discovered a novel chytrid fungus (B. salamandrivorans) that is bringing salamander populations in Europe to the edge of extinction and is now considered to be a serious threat to western Palearctic amphibian diversity.B. salamandrivorans has hitherto only been detected in Europe and Asia. The hypothesis of this project is that B. salamandrivorans has established long term endemism in Vietnamese salamander populations as the result of host-pathogen co-evolution. We therefore assumed that Vietnamese salamander communities are the natural reservoir of B. salamandrivorans from where it spilled over to Europe through the live animal trade, and may spill over to other continents in the future. The threat B. salamandrivorans poses to salamander diversity has urged authorities in Europe and the US to propose mitigation plans, which is, however, hampered by our current lack of knowledge regarding B. salamandrivorans disease epidemiology. Understanding mechanisms that underpin different epidemiological scenarios of wildlife diseases affecting biodiversity is crucial for any future mitigation measure to be developed.

See more: Threat evaluation of fungal strains on Vietnamese salamander populations