Since 2006, white-nose syndrome (WNS) has caused catastrophic declines among several species of hibernating bats in eastern North America. Although colonization of skin by the fungus Geomyces destructans is consistently associated with characteristic lesions in the wings of affected bats, the causative role of G. destructans in WNS has not been scientifically validated until now. A new study published Oct. 26, 2011, in the journal Nature demonstrates that exposure of healthy little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus) to pure cultures of G. destructans causes WNS. Live G. destructans was subsequently cultured from diseased bats, successfully fulfilling established criteria for the determination of G. destructans as a primary pathogen. The research team also confirmed that WNS can be transmitted from infected bats to healthy bats through direct contact. These results constitute the first direct evidence that G. destructans is the causal agent of WNS, and that the recent emergence of WNS in North America could represent introduction of the fungus to a region with a “naïve” population of animals, meaning that the affected bat species have not evolved with the fungus to establish resistance to the disease. Read the full press release at Culprit Identified: Fungus Causes Deadly Bat Disease.
For more information contact: Paul Cryan
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