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Differential expression profiles of microRNA in the little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) associated with white nose syndrome affected and unaffected individuals

April 30, 2013

First documented in New York State in 2006, white nose syndrome (WNS) quickly became the leading cause of mortality in hibernating bat species in the United States. WNS is caused by a psychrophilic fungus, Geomyces destructans. Clinical signs of this pathogen are expressed as a dusty white fungus predominately around the nose and on the wings of affected bats. Relatively new biomarkers, such as microRNAs (miRNAs) are being targeted as markers to predict the syndrome prior to the clinical manifestation. The primary objective of this study was to identify miRNAs that could serve as biomarkers and proxies of little brown bat health. Bats were collected from hibernacula that had tested positive and negative for WNS. Genetic sequencing was completed using the Ion Torrent platform. A number of miRNAs were identified from the liver as putative biomarkers of WNS. However, given the small sample size for each treatment, this data set has only coarsely identified miRNAs indicative of WNS, and further validation is required.