Amphibians on the brink

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Science  04 Aug 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6350, pp. 454-455
DOI: 10.1126/science.aao0500

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  • Comment on “amphibians on the brink”
    • Luís Felipe Toledo, University professor, Laboratório de História Natural de Anfíbios Brasileiros, Department of Animal Biology, Unicamp, Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil

    In amphibians on the brink, Bower et al. (1) describe how preemptive policies could protect amphibians from the emerging fungal pathogens Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) and B. salamandrivorans (Bsal). Specifically, the authors highlight the need to focus actions to safeguard amphibians from the few Batrachochytrium-free regions in the world. That’s indeed necessary, but I also would like to point out that the problem is far more serious and widespread; Bd is also capable of causing devastating declines and extinctions in areas where it has been endemic for long periods of time. Across the megadiverse herpetofauna of Brazil, for example, evidence suggests that Bd existed with low prevalence across the Atlantic Forest for over a century (2), but spiked in prevalence in the late 1970s and caused catastrophic amphibian declines and extinctions (3). Brazil’s Atlantic Forest not only harbors at least 530 endemic amphibian species, but it is also home to various Bd lineages varying in virulence (4). Our recent findings indicate that multiple hybrid strains may result from the sexually breeding of the global panzootic lineage (Bd-GPL) and the locally endemic Bd-Brazil (5-6). Unfortunately, we still lack experimental evidence comparing their virulence to the parental lineages. Upsurges of hypervirulent recombinant Bd strains may be even extremely alarming due to the international frog trade (mainly for food and pets); a significant driver of the pathogen spread globally (6-7)....

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    Competing Interests: None declared.