Clonal Expansion of the Pseudogymnoascus destructans Genotype in North America Is Accompanied by Significant Variation in Phenotypic Expression
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Pseudogymnoascus destructans is the causative agent of an emerging infectious disease that threatens populations of several North American bat species. The fungal disease was first observed in 2006 and has since caused the death of nearly six million bats. The disease, commonly known as white-nose syndrome, is characterized by a cutaneous infection with P. destructans causing erosions and ulcers in the skin of nose, ears and/or wings of bats. Previous studies based on sequences from eight loci have found that isolates of P. destructans from bats in the US all belong to one multilocus genotype. Using the same multilocus sequence typing method, we found that isolates from eastern and central Canada also had the same genotype as those from the US, consistent with the clonal expansion of P. destructans into Canada. However, our PCR fingerprinting revealed that among the 112 North American isolates we analyzed, three, all from Canada, showed minor genetic variation. Furthermore, we found significant variations among isolates in mycelial growth rate; the production of mycelial exudates; and pigment production and diffusion into agar media. These phenotypic differences were influenced by culture medium and incubation temperature, indicating significant variation in environmental condition--dependent phenotypic expression among isolates of the clonal P. destructans genotype in North America.
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