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Devastating frog fungus triggers suicide by immune cells

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A deadly fungus spreading like wildfire through amphibian populations causes immune cells to commit suicide, a new study finds. The chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis kills frogs and other amphibians by infecting the skin, interfering with fluid and electrolyte levels, and ultimately causing death by cardiac arrest. The results have been devastating to frog populations worldwide: In the Sierra Nevada in California, for example, infection by B. dendrobatidis wiped out 75 percent of the mountain yellow-legged frog (Rana muscosa) population in only four years. The species is now considered endangered.

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