A study has discovered that the fungus Geomyces destructans is the causal agent of White-nose Syndrome (WNS), the fungal disease decimating the bat population.
The study is coauthored by Justin Boyles, a post-doctoral research associate in ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a team led by David Blehert at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Wildlife Health Center together with Jeffrey Lorch, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. WNS is dubbed so because affected bats develop halos of white fungus around their muzzles. The symptoms of WNS include loss of body fat, unusual winter behavior, lesions to the wing membranes, and death.
The findings are published in the latest edition of Nature.
G. destructans has been thought to be the likely culprit, because the skin lesions characteristic of the disease are associated with colonization of the fungus. Still, the role of G. destructans in WNS has remained controversial, because evidence proving the fungus as the primary cause of the disease was lacking.
"Many assumed that fungal infections in mammals only occur if some other pathogen has already weakened the immune system," said Boyles. "Additionally, the recent discovery that G. destructans commonly colonizes the skin of bats in Europe with no major die-offs generated speculation that other unidentified factors are the primary cause of WNS."
To put the speculation to rest, the researchers set up an experiment to see if G. destructans causes WNS. They housed healthy little brown bats in a laboratory under hibernation conditions and treated them with G. destructans. Exposure to the fungus caused WNS in the healthy bats. They also found that WNS can be transmitted from infected bats to healthy bats through direct contact.
"This information can be very useful to managers in their efforts to contain the spread of the disease," said Boyles. "These results provide the first direct evidence that G. destructans is the causal agent of WNS and that the recent emergence of WNS in North America suggests the fungus is new to the continent and the bats here have not developed immunity to the disease."
The researchers are hopeful the findings will allow land managers and reseachers to focus efforts on solutions that may slow the spread of the fungus to new bat populations.
"By illustrating that the fungus causes WNS, we are taking an instrumental step in clarifying how this disease develops and how to control it," said Boyles. "We hope our findings are useful in guiding management actions to preserve bat populations against this novel and devastating threat."
Boyles collaborated with Blehert, Lorch, Carol Meteyer and Anne Ballmann from the National Wildlife Health Center at the USGS in Madison, Wisc.; Melissa Behr at the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Madison, Wisc.; Paul Cryan from the Fort Collins Science Center at USGS in Fort Collins, Colo.; Alan Hicks from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation in Albany, N.Y.; Jeremy Coleman from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Hadley, Mass.; David Redell from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in Madison, Wisc.; and DeeAnn Reeder from Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa.
Whitney Heins | Newswise Science News
Reducing household waste with less energy
18.01.2017 | FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz-Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur GmbH
Joint research project on wastewater for reuse examines pond system in Namibia
19.12.2016 | Technische Universität Darmstadt
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
18.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
18.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
18.01.2017 | Life Sciences