Discovery of novel fungal species and pathogens on bat carcasses in a cave in Yunnan Province, China

Emerg Microbes Infect. 2020 Dec;9(1):1554-1566. doi: 10.1080/22221751.2020.1785333.


Virulent infectious fungal diseases, in natural and managed landscapes, are increasing. Fungal diseases in humans, animals and plants have caused die-off and extinction events and have become a threat to food security. A caving expedition in Yunnan Province, China, revealed two bat carcasses covered in fungal mycelia. Eleven fungal isolates were obtained from these bat carcasses, and morphological observations and multigene phylogenetic analyses revealed they were Fusarium incarnatum, Mucor hiemalis and Trichoderma harzianum and four new species, Mortierella rhinolophicola, M. multispora, M. yunnanensis and Neocosmospora pallidimors. One of the more alarming findings is that a number of infections related to Neocosmospora, previously associated with human and animal mycotoxicoses, are reported to be increasing, and here we present a new species from this genus, isolated from dead bats. Due to the ecosystem services provided by bats, and the close relationship between bats and humans, future research should focus on the impacts and significance of N. pallidimors to human and animal health, examining its pathogenicity and secondary metabolites. Taxonomic descriptions, color images of the habitat, in situ samples, microstructures and cultures are presented. SEM photographs of microstructures and phylogenetic trees showing the placement of new and known species are also provided.

Keywords: Fusarium incarnatum; Mortierella multispora; Mortierella rhinolophicola; Mortierella yunnanensis; Mucor hiemalis; Neocosmospora pallidimors; Trichoderma harzianum; 4 new taxa.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Remains / microbiology
  • Caves
  • China
  • Chiroptera / microbiology*
  • Fungal Proteins / genetics*
  • Fungi / classification*
  • Fungi / genetics
  • Fungi / isolation & purification
  • Fungi / pathogenicity
  • Humans
  • Multilocus Sequence Typing / methods*
  • Mycological Typing Techniques
  • Mycotoxicosis / microbiology*
  • Phylogeny
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • Fungal Proteins

Grants and funding

This work was partly supported by the Yunnan Provincial Key Programs of Yunnan Eco-Friendly Food International Cooperation Research Center project under the grant code [2019ZG00908] and Chiang Mai University.