Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) is a chytrid fungus that was first reported as the cause of chytridiomycosis (an often deadly and highly infectious disease of amphibians) in wild and captive frogs collected in North and Central America and Australia. It was formally described as a species from captive South American frogs in 1999 and virtually everything known about it has been discovered in the context of its role in global amphibian declines. This fungus has now been found on all continents except Antarctica and has been detected in frog specimens collected as long ago as 1938. Chytrid fungi are typically aquatic and differ from other fungi in that they have a motile, flagellated zoospore. Many chytrid species have been described from aquatic habitats and soils as free-living or commensal organisms and as parasites of algae, invertebrates, fungi, and plants. Bd is one of only two chytrids known to parasitize vertebrates and it is the only one known to infect and develop within the keratinized epidermal cells of living amphibian skin. Bd infects an extraordinarily broad diversity of host species--in fact, it has the widest known host range of any pathogen. It is known to infect over 350 species of amphibians and has been been implicated in driving the decline or extinction of over 200 of these species. (Fisher et al. 2009; Kilpatrick et al. 2009)
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