Friday, 9 November 2012

Scientists searching for answers in fight against deadly White-nose syndrome

Science working to combat deadly white nose syndrome in bats
October 2012. New findings on white-nose syndrome (WNS) are bringing scientists closer to slowing the spread of this deadly bat disease, according to recent and ongoing studies by the U.S. Geological Survey.
5 million bats have died
WNS has killed more than 5 million bats since it first appeared in New York in 2007, and the disease, caused by the fungus Geomyces destructans, has spread to 19 U.S. states and four Canadian provinces.
USGS science is providing the foundation for informed decisions to manage this wildlife disease. Recent studies have defined the effects of temperature on the growth of the WNS-causing fungus, G. destructans; uncovered more knowledge about cave ecosystems; and developed better WNS testing techniques. These studies will ultimately serve to better define how environmental conditions influence development of WNS in bats.
Scientist versus fungus
"The USGS research to combat white nose syndrome lies in what scientists call 'Pasteur's Quadrant': it is not only of immediate and intense need because of the havoc that this disease is causing to an economically important animal, but it also advances the frontier of understanding of how fungi thrive in the environment," said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. "The race is on: scientist versus fungus, with the survival of several important species of bats at stake."
Cave temperature
In an article recently published in PLoS ONE, scientists at the USGS National Wildlife Health Center have shown in the laboratory that small changes in temperature, consistent with those found in bat caves, affect the overall growth rate and physiology of the WNS-causing fungus, G. destructans.

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