The epidemiology and genomics of a virulent emerging fungal pathogen in an Australian reptile


Emerging infectious fungal diseases (EIFDs) represent a major conservation concern worldwide. Here, we provide early insights into the potential threat that Nannizziopsis barbatae (Nb), a novel EIFD, poses to Australian herpetological biodiversity. First known to the reptile pet trade as a primary pathogen causing untreatable severe dermatomycosis, since 2013, Nb has emerged in a growing number of phylogenetically and ecologically distant free-living reptiles across Australia. Observing its emergence in a long-term study population of wild eastern water dragons (Intellagama lesueurii), we demonstrate the pathogen′s virulence-related genomic features, within-population spatiotemporal spread, and survival costs, all of which imply that Nb could pose a threat to Australian reptiles in the future. Our findings highlight the need to closely monitor this pathogen in Australian ecosystems.

Barbara Class
Barbara Class

I am a researcher interested in among-individual differences in wild vertebrate populations.