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Rapid diagnostic tests

Rapid diagnostic tests for amphibian chytridiomycosis

Having realised the enormous potential of a rapid diagnostic test for this deadly amphibian disease, we initiated a project at the University of Exeter to develop an antigen-based lateral flow device that can be used without access to specialist equipment.


The chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis has been implicated in amphibian species’ extinctions across the globe. The current detection protocol is based on amplification of DNA and therefore necessitates access to a molecular lab and potentially lengthy delays between swabbing a specimen (in captivity or the wild) and obtaining a positive result.

Following on from experiences conducting chytrid surveys in Tanzania and quarantining captive amphibians at Paignton Zoo, we realized the enormous potential of a rapid diagnostic test that could be used without access to specialist equipment. Colleagues at the University of Exeter have developed antigen-based lateral flow devices for rapid detection of fungal pathogens, similar to a commercial pregnancy test, that are in the ideal position to do the same for this deadly amphibian disease.

Early development of the technology was carried out in Exeter with a research grant from the Leverhulme Trust.


Dillon, M.J., Bowkett, A.E., Bungard, M.J., Beckman, K., O’Brien, M., Bates, K., Fisher, M.C., Stevens, J.R., Thornton, C.R. (2017). Tracking the amphibian pathogens Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis and Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans by using a highly specific monoclonal antibody and lateral-flow technology. Microbial Biotechnology 10: 381–394.

Dillon, M.J., Stevens, J.R., Bungard, M.J., Bowkett, A.E., Fisher, M.C., Thornton, C.R. (2015). Development of a mAb library targeting Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis antigens for the field diagnosis of chytridiomycosis. Presentation at the symposium: Health and Disease in Translocated Wild Animals, Zoological Society of London, 14–15 May 2015.