Colonies of little brown bats are currently going through a ‘genetic bottleneck’ event due to a fungal infection. The fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans causes white nose syndrome, which disrupts the hibernation period of the bats. The fungus first appeared in North American bat colonies in 2006, and since then have wiped out 90% of little brown bat colonies in the northeastern states.
A genetic bottleneck occurs when a large portion of the population dies off, greatly reducing the genetic diversity of the species, putting them at risk of being less able to survive future illnesses or environmental changes. Scientist are keen to prevent further bat deaths as the disease spreads west, so are looking for novel ways to fight the fungal infection.
One solution that researchers from Virginia Tech have trialed is spraying the bats with Pseudomonas fluorescens which is a naturally antifungal bacteria found on bats. The bats treated with the bacteria where better able to survive their winter hibernation than those not treated. The team point out that while more bats survived, this treatment in isolation is probably not enough to save the species, so additional complementary treatments may need to be given to the bats to improve survival rates.
Source: Science News
Read more: http://ow.ly/8FiK50v6579