White-Nose Syndrome fungus introduced from Europe to North America

Curr Biol. 2015 Mar 16;25(6):R217-R219. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2015.01.047.


The investigation of factors underlying the emergence of fungal diseases in wildlife has gained significance as a consequence of drastic declines in amphibians, where the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis has caused the greatest disease-driven loss of biodiversity ever documented [1]. Identification of the causative agent and its origin (native versus introduced) is a crucial step in understanding and controlling a disease [2]. Whereas genetic studies on the origin of B. dendrobatidis have illuminated the mechanisms behind the global emergence of amphibian chytridiomycosis [3], the origin of another recently-emerged fungal disease, White-Nose Syndrome (WNS) and its causative agent, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, remains unresolved [2,4]. WNS is decimating multiple North American bat species with an estimated death toll reaching 5-6 million. Here, we present the first informative molecular comparison between isolates from North America and Europe and provide strong evidence for the long-term presence of the fungus in Europe and a recent introduction into North America. Our results further demonstrate great genetic similarity between the North American and some European fungal populations, indicating the likely source population for this introduction from Europe.

Publication types

  • Letter
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ascomycota* / genetics
  • Ascomycota* / isolation & purification
  • Ascomycota* / pathogenicity
  • Chiroptera / microbiology*
  • Europe
  • Genes, Fungal
  • Haplotypes
  • Mycoses / microbiology
  • Mycoses / veterinary*
  • North America
  • Nose Diseases / microbiology
  • Nose Diseases / veterinary
  • Phylogeny