Lisa Warnecke



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Publication Date

January 2014




Lisa Warnecke a,1, James M. Turner a,1, Trent K. Bollinger b, Jeffrey M. Lorch c,d, Vikram Misra e, Paul M. Cryan f, Gudrun Wibbelt g, David S. Blehert d, and Craig K. R. Willis a,2 aDepartment of Biology and Centre for Forest Interdisciplinary Research, University of Winnipeg, Winnipeg, MB, Canada R3B 2E9; bDepartment of Veterinary Pathology, Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre, and eDepartment of Veterinary Microbiology, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada S7N 5B4; cMolecular and Environmental Toxicology Center, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706; dUS Geological Survey, National Wildlife Health Center, Madison, WI 53711; fUS Geological Survey, Fort Collins Science Center, Fort Collins, CO 80526; and gLeibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, 10315 Berlin, Germany White-nose syndrome (WNS) is an emerging disease of hibernat- ing bats associated with cutaneous infection by the fungus Geo- myces destructans (Gd), and responsible for devastating declines of bat populations in eastern North America. Affected bats appear emaciated and one hypothesis is that they spend too much time out of torpor during hibernation, depleting vital fat reserves re- quired to survive the winter. The fungus has also been found at low levels on bats throughout Europe but without mass mortality. This finding suggests that Gd is either native to both continents but has been rendered more pathogenic in North America by mu- tation or environmental change, or that it recently arrived in North America as an invader from Europe. Thus, a causal link between Gd and mortality has not been established and the reason for its high pathogenicity in North America is unknown. Here we show that experimental inoculation with either North American or Eu- ropean isolates of Gd causes WNS and mortality in the North American bat, Myotis lucifugus. In contrast to control bats, indi- viduals inoculated with either isolate of Gd developed cutaneous infections diagnostic of WNS, exhibited a progressive increase in the frequency of arousals from torpor during hibernation, and were emaciated after 3-4 mo. Our results demonstrate that al- tered torpor-arousal cycles underlie mortality from WNS and pro- vide direct evidence that Gd is a novel pathogen to North America from Europe. fungal pathogen | infectious disease | invasive species | Chiroptera | wildlife conservation Open Access See Extended description for more information.

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