Embargoed until September 2, 2013 - 19:02 GMT / EMBARGOED UNTIL SEPTEMBER 2, 2013 15:00 ET (19:00 GMT) TO GO WITH AFP STORY SCIENCE-NETHERLANDS-ENVIRONMENT-ANIMAL This undated photo courtesy of the Imperial College London shows a fire salamander. A new kind of skin-eating fungus has been identified as the cause of a mass die-off of fire salamanders in Europe, researchers said on September 2, 2013. Fire salamanders, recognisable by their distinctive yellow and black skin patterns, have been found dead in the country's forests since 2010. The population has fallen to around 10 individuals, less than four per cent of its original level, but what has been killing them has been a mystery until now.  Scientists from Ghent University, Imperial College London, Vrije Universiteit Brussel and the Dutch conservation group Ravon have isolated a new species of fungus from the dead animals and found that it can rapidly kill fire salamanders.  AFP PHOTO / IMPERIAL COLLEGE LONDON/FRANK PASMANS == RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE / MANDATORY CREDIT:
FILE PHOTO; This undated picture courtesy of the Imperial College London reveals a fireplace salamander. A brand new sort of skin-eating fungus has been recognized because the trigger of a mass die-off of fireplace salamanders in Europe, researchers stated on September 2, 2013. Fire salamanders, recognisable by their distinctive yellow and black pores and skin patterns, have been discovered lifeless within the nation’s forests since 2010. The inhabitants has fallen to round 10 people, lower than 4 per cent of its unique degree, however what has been killing them has been a thriller till now. Scientists from Ghent University, Imperial College London, Vrije Universiteit Brussel and the Dutch conservation group Ravon have remoted a brand new species of fungus from the lifeless animals and located that it may well quickly kill fireplace salamanders. AFP PHOTO 

PARIS, France (AFP) — Europe’s already endangered salamander inhabitants faces extinction as a result of a brand new, virulent fungus that additionally poses a broader risk to biodiversity, in line with a brand new study.

Even a small quantity of the extremely infectious pathogen might wipe out fireplace salamanders from Western Europe, because the amphibian lacks the immune response to combat it off, researchers reported Wednesday within the journal Nature.

“The fungus presents a ‘perfect storm’,” stated senior creator An Martel, a professor at Ghent University in Belgium.

“The result is that within six month’s time, infected fire salamander populations are reduced by more than 90 percent, and are finally extirpated.”

Following an outbreak in 2014, a group of biologists led by Ghent University monitored a colony of weak salamanders for 2 years, resulting in the grim discovery of the pathogen’s deadly affect.

Fungal spores — protected by cells with thick, water resistant exteriors — have a protracted lifespan and may thrive even when they don’t inhabit a residing organism.

The pathogen can unfold via soil, water and air. It also can connect itself to much less prone birds or frogs, which in flip unfold the an infection to salamanders.

Dubbed “Bsal” — brief for Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans — the lethal fungi first appeared on the European continent in 2010.

Scientists imagine the worldwide commerce in forestry, agricultural and wildlife species are chargeable for the invasion of fungi in non-native habitats.

Given the super-fungus’ traits — excessive virulence and fast growth — biologists fear that strategies to comprise the illness might show ineffective.

“Classical measures to control animal diseases such as vaccination and repopulation will not be successful and eradication of the fungus from the ecosystem is unlikely,” stated Gwij Stegen, one of the authors.

© Agence France-Presse

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