The Effect of Volatile Organic Compounds on Pseudogymnoascus Destructans the Causative Agent of White Nose Syndrome in Bats

Victoria Lois Korn

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The causative agent of White-Nose Syndrome (WNS) in bats is the psychrophilic fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans. Since its discovery in the winter of 2006-2007 there has been a flurry of research to better understand this pathogenic fungus as well as find a treatment to save the bats. There is promise in finding a potential treatment through the use of safe Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC). There was potential for the use of 1- octen-3-ol, mushroom alcohol as a treatment for WNS. The first chapter shows the effectiveness of the R and S enantiomers and the racemic form of 1-octen-3-ol (mushroom alcohol) as well as trans-2-hexenal (leaf aldehyde), on mycelial plugs and conidiospores at temperatures of 5, 10 and 15°C. 1-octen-3-ol was able to inhibit mycelial and conidiospore growth of P. destructans at 0.4 and 0.8 μmol/mL and the R enantiomer of this compound was more effective than the S enantiomer, supporting the finding that biological systems can be sensitive to stereochemistry. trans-2-hexenal was more effective than 1-octen-3-ol and showed fungicidal activity at 0.05 μmol/mL to both conidiospores and mycelia of P. destructans. The second chapter is a transcriptomics iii study to understand a potential pathway trans-2-hexenal takes in inhibiting P. destructans growth. P. destructans was treated with trans-2-hexenal at sublethal concentrations, and RNA was extracted for Illumina sequencing. It was found that trans-2-hexenal was able to inhibit growth, possibly through downregulating the production of essential genes, like Superoxide Dismutase. Also discovered was the downregulation of known endopeptidase enzyme, Destrucin-2, indicating trans-2-hexenal may also able to reduce virulence while inhibiting growth.