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“Endangered Bats Are Evolving To Fight Off An Exotic Fungal Disease”

“Little brown bats, an endangered species, have declined by more than 90% due to white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that causes bats to wake up from hibernation, and consequently drains their essential fat reserves.

A new study uses genetics to determine that little brown bats with certain genetic traits are more likely to survive the disease.

Research on genetically resistant bats could help inform conservation efforts to save the little brown bat and other bat species affected by the syndrome.”

“A mysterious disease is wiping out one of the world’s smallest bats, the aptly named “little brown bat,” which has an extensive range across the United States and Canada. But these tiny mammals, which are classified as an endangered species by the IUCN and Canada’s Species at Risk Act, are turning out to be more tenacious than previously thought. New research shows that little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus) could be fighting off the disease through genetic resistance.

The disease, white-nose syndrome, comes from a fungus called Pseudogymnoascus destructans, often abbreviated to Pd. This pathogen is believed to have originated in Asia or Europe, although researchers haven’t been able to pinpoint a specific source. It was first detected in Albany, New York, in 2006, and since then, it’s spread across North America — from southern Texas to the western seaboard of Newfoundland — killing millions of bats in the process. Some experts refer to white-nose syndrome as one of the deadliest wildlife diseases in modern times.”

Elizabeth Claire Alberts reports for Mongabay May 14, 2020.