White-nose syndrome is a deadly fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, that attacks a bat's nose, ears, and wings during its hibernation. Researchers have now found that a particular bacteria growing naturally on the skin of some bats may help fighting white-nose syndrome. They hope that a spray prepared from the white-nose-fighting bacteria could be applied to bats as they hibernate. During hibernation, the bat's temperature remains very low allowing the bacteria to thrive on it and ward off the deadly fungal infection.
Researchers tested bacteria from the skin of four bat species to see to what degree they could suppress white-nose syndrome. Six of the bacteria collected from the bats could inhibit significantly the growth of the fungus in petri dishes, while two were particularly successful at suppressing it for more than 35 days.
Joseph Hoyt, a student from University of California, Santa Cruz and lead author of this study, said, "What's promising is that the bacteria that can inhibit the fungus naturally occur on the skin of bats. These bacteria may just be at too low a level to have an effect on the disease, but augmenting them to higher abundances may provide a beneficial effect. We are analyzing data from tests on live bats now, and if the results are positive, the next step would be a small field trial."
The study is published in Plos One