Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis is a unique fungus responsible for chytridiomycosis, an emerging infectious disease that is responsible for global amphibian declines. First identified in 1998 on frogs originating from Australia and Central America, B. dendrobatidis has now been reported to be killing frogs on every continent except Asia and Antarctica. Despite international collaboration and considerable research effort, investigators remain baffled by this novel pathogen; the mechanism by which it rapidly spreads, the origin of the species, and how it kills frogs remain a mystery. Obtaining the genome sequence of B. dendrobatidis would facilitate studies of its pathogenicity and its epidemiology. Scientifically, obtaining the genome of B. dendrobatidis is particularly important because it will be one of the first representatives sequenced of the Chytridiomycota, the most basal fungal phyla. (See also Why Sequence Piromyces?) Comparative genomics with other fungi, protozoans, and animals may help to elucidate the genetic and developmental characters present at this pivotal point of evolutionary divergence.
CSP project participants: John W. Taylor (proposer) and Jess A.T. Morgan (UC Berkeley).