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Experimental inoculation trial to determine the effects of temperature and humidity on White-nose Syndrome in hibernating bats

January 19, 2022

Disease results from interactions among the host, pathogen, and environment. Inoculation trials can quantify interactions among these players and explain aspects of disease ecology to inform management in variable and dynamic natural environments. White-nose Syndrome, a disease caused by the fungal pathogen, Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), has caused severe population declines of several bat species in North America. We conducted the first experimental infection trial on the tri-colored bat, Perimyotis subflavus, to test the effect of temperature and humidity on disease severity. We also tested the effects of temperature and humidity on fungal growth and persistence on substrates. Unexpectedly, only 37% (35/95) of bats experimentally inoculated with Pd at the start of the experiment showed any infection response or disease symptoms after 83 days of captive hibernation. There was no evidence that temperature or humidity influenced infection response. Temperature had a strong effect on fungal growth on media plates, but the influence of humidity was more variable and uncertain. Designing laboratory studies to maximize research outcomes would be beneficial given the high costs of such efforts and potential for unexpected outcomes. Understanding the influence of microclimates on host–pathogen interactions remains an important consideration for managing wildlife diseases, particularly in variable environments.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2022
Title Experimental inoculation trial to determine the effects of temperature and humidity on White-nose Syndrome in hibernating bats
DOI 10.1038/s41598-022-04965-x
Authors Winifred F. Frick, Emily R. Johnson, Tina L. Cheng, Julia S. Lankton, Robin Warne, Jason Dallas, Katy L. Parise, Jeffrey T. Foster, Justin G. Boyles, Liam P. McGuire
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Scientific Reports
Series Number
Index ID 70228197
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization National Wildlife Health Center