Monday, 14 March 2016

Bats in Asia found to have resistance to white-nose syndrome fungus

New findings suggest at least some declining North American bat species could eventually evolve resistance to the devastating disease

Date: March 9, 2016
Source: University of California - Santa Cruz

As the deadly bat disease called white-nose syndrome continues to spread across North America, scientists are studying bats in China to understand how they are able to survive infections with the same fungus that has wiped out millions of North American bats.

By comparing disease dynamics in North American and Asian bat populations, researchers have found evidence that Asian bat species have much lower levels of infection than North American species and therefore are resistant to the fungus. The study, published March 9, 2016 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, also suggests that some declining North American bat species may be able to evolve enough resistance to the disease to persist, while other species appear less likely to do so.

Led by researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, an international team sampled hibernating bats at five sites in China and five sites in the United States, using a standardized swabbing technique to detect and quantify the amount of fungus on each bat.
"Uniformly, across all the species we sampled in China, we found much lower levels of infection--both the fraction of bats infected and the amount of fungus on infected bats were lower than in North America," said first author Joseph Hoyt, a graduate student at UC Santa Cruz.




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