ABSTRACT

Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal) is an emerging fungal pathogen that affects salamander and newt populations in Asia and Europe. In the Western Hemisphere, Bsal represents a major threat to endemic amphibian populations, which have not evolved resistance to infection, and which could experience local extinction events such as those observed in European fire salamanders (Salamandra salamandra). We report findings of a survey focusing specifically on wild lungless salamanders in the southeastern US, the most biodiverse location for salamander species globally. Between May 2016 and July 2018, we conducted 25 surveys at 10 sites across three ecoregions in Tennessee, US. Using quantitative (q)PCR, we screened water samples and skin swabs from 137 salamanders in five plethodontid genera. Although single replicates of six samples amplified during qPCR cycling, no samples could be confirmed as positive for the presence of Bsal with 28S rRNA PCR and independent laboratory screening. It is probable that we found false positive results, as reported by other researchers using the same assay. We offer recommendations for future monitoring efforts.

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