Bat Microbiota as Biocontrols for White-Nose Syndrome

D. E. Northup1, A. S. Kooser1, N. A. Caimi1, P. S. Hamm2, A. Porras-Alfaro2, J. C. Kimble1, J. M. Young1, D. C. Buecher3

Author address: 

1Univ. of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, 2Western Illinois Univ., Macomb, IL, 3Buecher Biological Consulting, Tucson, AZ


Background: Recent studies have shown that mammals, such as humans, have a natural external microbiota that acts as a filter against pathogens. We know little about this potential defense in bats and its effectiveness against Pseudogymnoascus destructans, the causative agent of whitenose syndrome (WNS). Methods: One hundred-eighty-six bats from 14 species from pre-WNS New Mexico (NM) and Arizona (AZ) were swabbed and sequenced using 454 next gen sequencing.Results: Our Qiime and R Studio analysis of bat bacterial microbiota revealed that microbiota present on bats caught in caves are substantially different from those netted on the surface. Our results also reveal that the ecoregion from which the bat was caught, helps to differentiate different sampled microbiota. One major group present is the microbiota is the Actinobacteria, which are one of the most prolific producers of secondary metabolites, such as antifungals. These Actinobacteria may represent an effective biocontrol agent against P. destructans. To test this, we cultured external Actinobacteria from NM and AZ cave-caught and surface netted bats, subcultured 2100 isolates using media targeting Actinobacteria, and tested for the production of antifungals that are effective against P. destructans. Tests were conducted using a bi-layer method in the laboratory. Thirty-five isolates inhibited P. destructans, most of which were Streptomyces spp. One Rhodococcus rhodochrous also produced significant inhibition.Conclusions: Understanding the antifungal potential of the external microbiota on bats will help to identify potential WNS biocontrol agents. Also, investigations of microbiota, and Actinobacteria in particular, give us insight into what management strategies are likely to be successful.

abstract No: 


Full conference title: 

ASM Microbe 2016
    • ASM microbe 1st (2016)