Fatal phaeohyphomycosis due to Exophiala sp. Infection in a free-living common toad Bufo bufo

Katharina Seilern-Moy*, Julia Rodriguez Ramos Fernandez, Shaheed K. Macgregor, Shinto K. John, Chris Linton, Andrew A. Cunningham, Becki Lawson

*Corresponding author for this work

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1 Citation (Scopus)


A wild adult female common toad Bufo bufo found dead in Scotland in September 2016 was observed to have hepatomegaly, a large soft tissue mass in the coelomic cavity (2.7 g, 3.5 × 2.3 × 1.8 cm) and numerous dark-red papules (1−2 mm diameter) in the skin and subjacent tissue over the back and dorsal aspects of the limbs. Histopathological examination identified marked hepatitis and coelomitis associated with pigmented fungal hyphae, which are results consistent with a diagnosis of phaeohyphomycosis. Sequencing of the internal transcribed spacer region and the D1-D2 region of the large subunit of the ribosomal RNA gene from affected liver tissue identified the presence of Exophiala (Chaetothyriales) sp., a black yeast previously identified as a cause of amphibian phaeohyphomycosis. To our knowledge, this is the first published report of Exophiala sp. in a wild or captive amphibian in Europe and the first description of phaeohyphomycosis affecting a free-living amphibian in Great Britain. Exophiala spp. are saprobes and opportunistic pathogens. It has been postulated that phaeohyphomycosis is a disease of immunocompromised amphibians; however, we found no evidence of significant concurrent infection or generalised debility in this common toad. Phaeohyphomycosis appears to be a sporadic cause of mortality in amphibians, and this report adds to the growing list of pathogens known to affect wild amphibians in Europe.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-24
Number of pages6
JournalDiseases of Aquatic Organisms
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements. This study was part of the Garden Wildlife Health project, a collaborative project between the Zoological Society of London, the British Trust for Ornitho - logy, Froglife and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, currently funded in part by Defra, the Welsh Government and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) Diseases of Wildlife Scheme (DoWS), the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare. We thank Dr. Fiona Gibson, who reported the common toad mortality event.

Publisher Copyright:
© Inter-Research 2019 · www.int-res.com


  • Amphibian population declines
  • Black yeast
  • Mycosis
  • Wildlife disease surveillance


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