Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Datasheet: Pseudogymnoascus destructans (white-nose syndrome fungus)

May 1, 2017

Pseudogymnoascus destructans is a psychrophilic (cold-loving) fungus that causes white-nose syndrome (WNS), an emerging disease of North American bats that has caused unprecedented population declines. The fungus is believed to have been introduced to North America from Europe or Asia (where it is present but does not cause significant mortality), but the full extent of its native range is unknown. The route of introduction is also unknown. In North America, hibernating bats become infected with P. destructans when body temperature decreases during winter torpor into the range permissive for growth of this fungus. Infected bats may develop visible fungal growth on the nose or wings, awaken more frequently from torpor, and experience a cascade of physiologic changes that result in weight loss, dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and death. P. destructans persists in the environments of underground bat hibernation sites (hibernacula) and is believed to spread primarily by natural movements of infected bats. The first evidence of WNS in North America is from a photograph of a hibernating bat taken during winter of 2005-2006 in a hibernaculum near Albany, New York. P. destructans subsequently spread rapidly from the northeastern United States throughout much of the eastern portions of the United States and Canada, and most recently (as of May 2017) was detected in Washington State. It has killed millions of bats, threatening some species with regional extirpation and putting at risk the valuable environmental services that bats provide by eating harmful insects.

Related Content