Widespread infection of the Eastern red-spotted newt (Notophthalmus viridescens) by a new species of Amphibiocystidium, a genus of fungus-like mesomycetozoan parasites not previously reported in North America.
Given the worldwide decline of amphibian populations due to emerging infectious diseases, it is imperative that we identify and address the causative agents. Many of the pathogens recently implicated in amphibian mortality and morbidity have been fungal or members of a poorly understood group of fungus-like protists, the mesomycetozoans. One mesomycetozoan, Amphibiocystidium ranae, is known to infect several European amphibian species and was associated with a recent decline of frogs in Italy. Here we present the first report of an Amphibiocystidium sp. in a North American amphibian, the Eastern red-spotted newt (Notophthalmus viridescens), and characterize it as the new species A. viridescens in the order Dermocystida based on morphological, geographical and phylogenetic evidence. We also describe the widespread and seasonal distribution of this parasite in red-spotted newt populations and provide evidence of mortality due to infection.