Navigation Links
Fungus that causes white-nose syndrome in bats proves hardy survivor
Date:10/25/2013

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. After taking an in-depth look at the basic biology of a fungus that is decimating bat colonies as it spreads across the U.S., researchers report that they can find little that might stop the organism from spreading further and persisting indefinitely in bat caves.

Their report appears in the journal PLOS ONE.

The aptly named fungus Pseudogymnoascus (Geomyces) destructans causes white-nose syndrome in bats. The infection strikes bats during their winter hibernation, leaving them weakened and susceptible to starvation and secondary infections. The fungus, believed to have originated in Europe, was first seen in New York in the winter of 2006-2007, and now afflicts bats in more than two dozen states. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P. destructans has killed more than 5.5 million bats in the U.S. and Canada.

The fungus thrives at low temperatures, and spreads to bats whose body temperature drops below 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit) when they are hibernating in infected caves. Previous research has shown that the fungus persists in caves even after the bats are gone.

The new study, from researchers at the Illinois Natural History Survey at the University of Illinois, found that the fungus can make a meal out of just about any carbon source likely to be found in caves, said graduate student Daniel Raudabaugh, who led the research under the direction of survey mycologist Andrew Miller.

"It can basically live on any complex carbon source, which encompasses insects, undigested insect parts in guano, wood, dead fungi and cave fish," Raudabaugh said. "We looked at all the different nitrogen sources and found that basically it can grow on all of them. It can grow over a very wide range of pH; it doesn't have trouble in any pH unless it's extremely acidic."

"P. destructans appears to create an environment that should degrade the structure of keratin, the main protein in skin," Raudabaugh said. It has enzymes that break down urea and proteins that produce a highly alkaline environment that could burn the skin, he said. Infected bats often have holes in their skin, which can increase their susceptibility to other infections.

The fungus can subsist on other proteins and lipids on the bats' skin, as well as glandular secretions, the researchers said.

"P. destructans can tolerate naturally occurring inhibitory sulfur compounds, and elevated levels of calcium have no effect on fungal growth," Raudabaugh said.

The only significant limitation of the fungus besides temperatures above 20 degrees Celsius has to do with its ability to take up water, Raudabaugh said. Its cells are leaky, making it hard for the fungus to absorb water from surfaces, such as dry wood, that have a tendency to cling to moisture. But in the presence of degraded fats or free fatty acids, like those found on the skin of living or dead animals, the fungus can draw up water more easily, he said.

"All in all the news for hibernating bats in the U.S. is pretty grim," Miller said.

"When the fungus first showed up here in Illinois earlier this year we went from zero to 80 percent coverage in a little more than a month," he said. The team led by U. of I. researchers that discovered the fungus in the state found a single infected bat in one northern Illinois cave, he said. Several weeks later most of the bats in that cave were infected.

Although many studies have been done on the fungal genome and on the bats, Miller said, Raudabaugh is the first to take an in-depth look at the basic biology of the fungus.

"Dan found that P. destructans can live perfectly happily off the remains of most organisms that co-inhabit the caves with the bats," Miller said. "This means that whether the bats are there or not, it's going to be in the caves for a very long time."


'/>"/>

Contact: Diana Yates
diya@illinois.edu
217-333-5802
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Buttercups alert farmers to first signs of subarctic fungus in the UK
2. Beetle-fungus disease threatens crops and landscape trees in Southern California
3. NYBG scientists identify 81 new plant and fungus species
4. How an ancestral fungus may have influenced coal formation
5. How a common fungus knows when to attack
6. Researchers launch new Rust-Tracker to monitor deadly wheat fungus in 27 nations
7. Natural fungus may provide effective bed bug control
8. University of Tennessee researchers find fungus has cancer-fighting power
9. Fungus responsible for 5 deaths in the wake of massive tornado
10. The secret sex life of the penicillin-producing fungus could make it more productive
11. More accurate, sensitive DNA test allows early identification of fungus causing WNS
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Fungus that causes white-nose syndrome in bats proves hardy survivor
(Date:6/23/2017)... N.Y. and ITHACA, N.Y. ... ) and Cornell University, a leader in dairy research, ... with bioinformatics designed to help reduce the chances that ... With the onset of this dairy project, Cornell University ... Consortium for Sequencing the Food Supply Chain, a food ...
(Date:5/16/2017)... 2017   Bridge Patient Portal , an ... MD EMR Systems , an electronic medical record ... have established a partnership to build an interface ... GE Centricity™ products, including Centricity Practice Solution (CPS), ... These new integrations will allow healthcare delivery networks ...
(Date:4/18/2017)... , April 18, 2017  Socionext Inc., a global expert in ... media edge server, the M820, which features the company,s hybrid codec ... provided by Tera Probe, Inc., will be showcased during the upcoming ... NAB show at the Las Vegas Convention ... Click ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:9/20/2017)... CT (PRWEB) , ... September 20, 2017 , ... ... announced today that it has appointed Vishwas Paralkar to the role of chief ... tumor targeting technology. He will report to Cybrexa’s president and CEO, Per Hellsund. ...
(Date:9/20/2017)... ... September 20, 2017 , ... ... effects of exoskeleton-assisted walking on gait parameters and neuromuscular activity in able-bodied ... during a robotic powered exoskeleton assisted walking session" (doi:10.1080.10790268.2017.1314900) was epublished ahead ...
(Date:9/19/2017)... ... September 19, 2017 , ... The ... most dangerous step of sample prep for metals digestion—the addition of acids and ... an affordable price. The system is ideal for any laboratory performing their own ...
(Date:9/19/2017)... IL (PRWEB) , ... September 19, 2017 , ... The ... environments and time. The pocket testers even stand upright with a new cap design ... lab or out in the field who need to test water quality. , The ...
Breaking Biology Technology: