Mycobiome traits associated with disease tolerance predict many western North American bat species will be susceptible to white-nose syndrome

Microbilogy Spectrum
By: , and 

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Abstract

White-nose syndrome (WNS), a fungal disease that has caused catastrophic population declines of bats in eastern North America, is rapidly spreading across the continent and now threatens previously unexposed bat species in western North America. The causal agent of WNS, the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans, can infect many species of hibernating bats, but susceptibility to WNS varies by host species. We previously reported that certain traits of the skin microbiome, particularly yeast diversity and abundance, of bat species in eastern North America are strongly associated with resistance to WNS. Using these traits, we developed models to predict WNS susceptibility of 13 species of western North American bats. Based on models derived from yeast species diversity, only one bat species, Myotis velifer, was predicted to be WNS resistant (i.e., may develop the disease, but with low mortality rates). We also screened yeasts found on western bats for P. destructans-antagonistic properties by spore germination and growth inhibition/competition assays and found the ability of yeasts to inhibit P. destructans in vitro to be strain specific. Similar to results of inhibition assays performed with yeasts isolated from bats in eastern North America, few yeasts isolated from bats in western North America inhibited P. destructans in vitro. Continued monitoring of western bat populations will serve to validate the accuracy of the mycobiome analysis in predicting WNS susceptibility, document population and susceptibility trends, and identify additional predictors to assess the vulnerability of naive bat populations to WNS.
Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Mycobiome traits associated with disease tolerance predict many western North American bat species will be susceptible to white-nose syndrome
Series title Microbilogy Spectrum
DOI 10.1128/Spectrum.00254-21
Volume 9
Issue 1
Year Published 2021
Language English
Publisher American Society for Microbiology
Contributing office(s) National Wildlife Health Center
Description e00254-21
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