Two subspecies of bent-winged bats (Miniopterus orianae bassanii and oceanensis) in southern Australia have diverse fungal skin flora but not Pseudogymnoascus destructans

Peter H. Holz
Linda F. Lumsden
Mark S. Marenda


Fungi are increasingly being documented as causing disease in a wide range of faunal species, including Pseudogymnoascus destructans, the fungus responsible for white nose syndrome which is having a devastating impact on bats in North America. The population size of the Australian southern bent-winged bat (Miniopterus orianae bassanii), a critically endangered subspecies, has declined over the past 50 years. As part of a larger study to determine whether disease could be a contributing factor to this decline, southern bent-winged bats were tested for the presence of arange of potentially pathogenic fungi: P. destructans, dermatophytes and Histoplasma capsulatum (a potential human pathogen commonly associated with caves inhabited by bats). Results were compared with those obtained for the more common eastern bent-winged bat (M. orianae oceanensis). All bats and their environment were negative for P. destructans. A large number of fungi were found on the skin and fur of bats, most of which were environmental or plant associated, and none of which were likely to be of significant pathogenicity for bats. A 0–19% prevalence of H. capsulatum was detected in the bat populations sampled, but not in the environment, indicative of a low zoonotic risk. Based on the results of this study, fungi are unlikely to be contributing significantly to the population decline of the southern bent-winged bat.