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Abstract Detail


Smyth, Christopher [1], Schlesinger, Sara [2], Overton, Barrie  [2], Butchkoski, Calvin [3].

Application of the Alternative Host Hypothesis Elucidates Potential Virulence Genes in Pseudogymnoascus destructans.

        After its arrival in the United States in 2006, White Nose Syndrome, caused by the Leotiomycete fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pds), has decimated bat populations in North America, leading to the death of over six million individual bats spanning seven species. Evidence suggests that this fungus is new and invasive to North American cave ecosystems, accidentally introduced from Europe where records of it growing on bats pre-date 2006. Pds does not, however, cause the same mortality rates in Europe as seen in North American species. Coevolution of Pds with its native hosts has been hypothesized as a probable explanation for the differences in mortality (Wibbelt et al. 2010). An alternative explanation is that Pds is an environmental pathogenic fungus (EPF) sensu the Alternative Host Hypothesis of Casadevall et al. (2003), and like most fungal pathogens of mammals, has an environmental saprophytic phase. First, we found that Pds can be isolated from and grows well on a common moss, Polytrichum commune, indicating that it can survive and reproduce without a bat host. Second, we identified dual use virulence genes that are fortuitously pre-adapted for pathogenic functions when inside the mammal host. Overall these data suggest that Pds has the ability to grow and reproduce in cave environments when its mammalian host is absent.  While the status of Pds as an EPF does not exclude coevolution with bats, these findings provide a conceptual framework for the study of the etiology of this important disease.

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1 - Pennsylvania State University, Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology , 118 Buckhout Lab, University Park, PA , 16802, USA
2 - Lock Haven University, Biology, 205 East Campus Science Center, Lock Haven, PA, 17745, USA
3 - Pennsylvania Game Commission, Bureau of Wildlife Management , 2001 Elmerton Avenue , Harrisburg, PA, 17110, USA

none specified

Presentation Type: Offered Paper - Paper
Session: 5
Location: Room 103 AB/Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center
Date: Monday, June 9th, 2014
Time: 1:15 PM
Number: 5002
Abstract ID:120
Candidate for Awards:Graduate Student Oral Presentation Award

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