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The ‘Super Mushroom’ threatens the critically endangered yellow frog species

The last Panamanian yellow frogs in Central America are in danger of disappearing due to a superfungal spread in the water that causes disease on the skin.

A Panama yellow frog (Atelopus zeteki) inside El Nispero Zoo. Photo: AFP.

The Panama Yellow Frog – characterized by a yellow body with many black spots – is a national symbol and endemic animal of Panama. While the International Union for Conservation of Nature lists them as “critically endangered”, this amphibian may in fact have been “extinct in the wild” since 2007.

There are currently only about 1,500 Atelopus zeteki individuals living inside the reserves. However, the last representatives of the species are threatened by a super-infecting fungus known scientifically as Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) or the chytrid fungus.

This microorganism is the causative agent of chytridiomycosis, an infectious disease that has caused the disappearance of about 30 species in the past. When attached to animal skin, Bd prevents the host from exchanging salt and water with the environment. The disease causes impossibility

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