O’Hanlon, S., Rieux, A., Farrer, R.A., Rosa, G.M., et al. (2018) Recent Asian origin of chytrid fungi causing global amphibian declines.Science, 360 (6389), 621-627. DOI:10.1126/science.aar1965 (IF2016 37,2015; Q1 Multidisciplinary Sciences)
Globalized infectious diseases are causing species declines worldwide, but their source often remains elusive. We used whole-genome sequencing to solve the spatiotemporal origins of the most devastating panzootic to date, caused by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, a proximate driver of global amphibian declines. We traced the source of B. dendrobatidis to the Korean peninsula, where one lineage, BdASIA-1, exhibits the genetic hallmarks of an ancestral population that seeded the panzootic. We date the emergence of this pathogen to the early 20th century, coinciding with the global expansion of commercial trade in amphibians, and we show that intercontinental transmission is ongoing. Our findings point to East Asia as a geographic hotspot for B. dendrobatidis biodiversity and the original source of these lineages that now parasitize amphibians worldwide.