We’re Learning More About The Fungus That Causes White-nose Syndrome!

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[PHOTO: PSEUDOGYMNOASCUS DESTRUCTANS ISOLATES FOLLOWING 28 DAYS OF INCUBATION]

I recently had a paper published in a scientific journal.

We showed that isolates of Pseudogymnoascus destructans (the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome in bats) from Canada are genetically identical to isolates from the United States. It is thought that Pseudogymnoascus destructans is an introduced species from Europe and the lack of genetic variation in North America supports this hypothesis. We did find some minor genetic variation which likely reflects ongoing evolution and adaptation in this species as it spreads. Pseudogymnoascus destructans was first observed in North America in 2006 and has spread hundreds of kilometers per year from the epicenter since then.

While there was little genetic variation, we did find that our isolates varied quite a bit in other traits such as growth rate, pigment secretion, and the production of exudate (fluid). These traits may be associated with fitness and virulence in fungi. The variation we observed may reflect the adaptability of Pseudogymnoascus destructans to variations in its environment. The more we learn about how Pseudogymnoascus destructans survives in the wild, the more likely it is that we can find a way to defeat it. That would be good news indeed!

Karen Vanderwolf

Author: Karen Vanderwolf

Karen has had an interest in the natural world for as long as she can remember and always knew her career would take her into the field of biology. Karen received her Masters of Science at the University of New Brunswick where she studied bats and the pre-white nose syndrome fungal flora that occurs on them. She completed her Bachelor of Science (Hons.) in biology at the University of Western Ontario. She has previously worked with Ontario Parks performing plant and salamander field work and assisted in preparations for a Karner blue butterfly reintroduction. She has also worked with swift foxes, wood turtles and waterfowl.

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