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article imageBat death fungus isolated using advanced DNA kit

By Tim Sandle     Mar 17, 2013 in Environment
The disease that has been afflicting bats across the U.S. and Canada, known as White Nose Syndrome (WNS), is being caused by a fungus. Scientists have now isolated the fungus, named Geomyces destructans, through the use of an advanced test kit.
Last year, the Digital Journal reported that a deadly white-nose fungus had killed some 6 million bats in the past 5 years across the USA and Canada, and that the trend looked set to rise. The predicted rise was confirmed in a subsequent report on the Digital Journal by Leigh Goessl, where it was noted that the fungus had been identified in 22 states and five Canadian provinces.
White Nose Syndrome was first identified in Upstate New York in 2006. Since then it has spread to caves throughout the East Coast and killed millions of bats, according to the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
In March 2013 the journal Mycologia has published research by a team of U.S. Forest Service scientists and partners identifying the primary fungus as the aptly named Geomyces destructans. The report will also indicate that a second species of Geomyces is also a causative agent.
The identifications of the fungi have come about from the application of a highly sensitive DNA-based technique based on analysis of samples taken from on bats as well as in soils and on cave walls.
Katie Gillies, imperiled species coordinator at Bat Conservation International, has spoken enthusiastically about the new test as quoted by the U.S. Forest Service website: "The significance of the Forest Service's recent research will have an immediate and direct benefit to WNS response at a national scale. This will allow managers to sample soil and substrates to test for the presence of Geomyces destructans, freeing up limited surveillance funds and time. Additionally, this opens the door to examine the use of gene silencing as a control mechanism for this devastating fungus. Research like this, that directly benefits resource managers and guides us to controlling this fungus, is critically needed."
Hopefully the new test will help scientists and conservationists make inroads in tackling this deadly disease.
More about bat death, Fungus, Identification, Geomyces destructans
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