White-nose syndrome (WNS) is causing significant declines in populations of North American hibernating bats, and recent western and southern expansions of the disease have placed additional species at risk. Understanding differences in species susceptibility and identifying management actions to reduce mortality of bats from WNS are top research priorities. However, the use of wild-caught susceptible bats, such as Myotis lucifugus, as model species for WNS research is problematic and places additional pressure on remnant populations. We investigated the feasibility of using Tadarida brasiliensis, a highly abundant species of bat that tolerates captivity, as the basis for an experimental animal model for WNS. Using methods previously established to confirm the etiology of WNS in M. lucifugus, we experimentally infected 11 T. brasiliensis bats with Pseudogymnoascus destructans in the laboratory under conditions that induced hibernation. We detected P. destructans on all 11 experimentally infected bats, 7 of which exhibited localized proliferation of hyphae within the epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous tissue, similar to invasive cutaneous ascomycosis observed in M. lucifugusbats with WNS. However, the distribution of lesions across wing membranes of T. brasiliensisbats was limited, and only one discrete “cupping erosion,” diagnostic for WNS, was identified. Thus, the rarity of lesions definitive for WNS suggests that T. brasiliensis does not likely represent an appropriate model for studying the pathophysiology of this disease. Nonetheless, the results of this study prompt questions concerning the potential for free-ranging, migratory T. brasiliensis bats to become infected with P. destructans and move the fungal pathogen between roost sites used by species susceptible to WNS.
- Digital Object Identifier: 10.1128/mSphere.00250-18
- Source: USGS Publications Warehouse (indexId: 70199147)