中文版

Home > > Interesting fungi

Interesting fungi

White nose syndrome

Date:2010-04-12

Transshiped from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_nose_syndrome

White nose syndrome (WNS) is a poorly understood malady associated with the deaths of more than a million bats. The condition, named for a distinctive ring of fungal growth around the muzzles and on the wings of many affected animals, was first identified in a cave in Schoharie County, New York in February 2006, and started showing up in the news after January 2007. It spread to other New York caves and into Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut in 2008. In early 2009 it was confirmed in New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and in March 2010 in Ontario, Canada, and northern Tennessee. The condition has been found in over 25 caves and mines in the northeastern U.S.

A 2008 study determined that the fungus found on the muzzles, wings, and ears of infected bats is a member of the Geomyces genus. It is not known if the fungus is a causative agent in the bat deaths. The fungal growth may be an opportunistic infection, rather than the actual cause of the condition. A loss of winter fat stores, pneumonia, and the disruption of hibernation and feeding cycles caused by warm and variable winter weather have all been suggested as causes or contributing factors.

Extensive spraying of pesticides to combat West Nile Virus or other environmental toxins could be a cause by directly affecting the bats or reducing insect populations, their primary source of food.

One researcher suspects a cause of the syndrome may be bat flies and this possibility is being investigated. Bat flies are small parasites that live in a bat's hair and feed on its blood. They may be involved in transmission of a pathogen.

Because no one yet knows how the condition spreads, cave management and preservation organizations have been requesting that cavers limit their activities and disinfect clothing and equipment that has been used in possibly infected caves. In some cases, access to caves is being closed entirely. Despite these efforts, the spread of the disease to Aeolus Cave, New England's largest hibernaculum, which has had limited human access since 2004, "complicates" the theory that human activity is directly contributing to the condition. As of March 2008, the disease had spread to Vermont, western Massachusetts and northwestern Connecticut. In February 2009, it had spread to New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and eastern West Virginia. The migratory nature of bats threatens to spread the malady throughout the northeastern United States.

On 12 March 2009, a Greater mouse-eared bat found in a cave near Périgueux showed the telltale white nose. It was captured, and a sample of the fungus was taken. Both morphological and genetic tests showed that the bat in France was infected with Geomyces destructans, the same fungus infecting bats in North America. Because this individual bat was not underweight, in contrast to infected bats in the U.S. and Canada, it is thought that the fungus is either native to Europe and local bats have a resistance to it, or that the fungus is not the root cause of WNS and the original pathogen is not present in Europe.