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Still Waters

Attack of the Killer Fungi Worries Scientists

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An unprecedented number of diseases caused by fungi have been causing some of the most severe die-offs and extinctions ever witnessed in wild species and jeopardizing crops to boot, scientists now report.

Fungi are wiping out amphibians on several continents, decimating bats in eastern North America, contributing to the disappearance of bees dubbed colony collapse disorder, and killing corals and sea turtles.

They are even threatening humans, if indirectly, by attacking crops. Fungi and fungilike organisms called oomycetes can cause significant losses to rice, wheat, maize, potatoes and soybeans, according to the researchers who write that the problems "vary regionally but pose a current and growing threat to food security."

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