Phenotypic Divergence along Geographic Gradients Reveals Potential for Rapid Adaptation of the White-Nose Syndrome Pathogen, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, in North America Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • The causal agent of white-nose syndrome in bats is Pseudogymnoascus destructans , a filamentous fungus recently introduced from its native range in Europe. Infections caused by P. destructans have progressed across the eastern parts of Canada and the United States over the last 10 years. It is not clear how the disease is spread, as the pathogen is unable to grow above 23°C and ambient temperature can act as a barrier when hosts disperse. Here, we explore the patterns of phenotypic diversity and the germination of the fungal asexual spores, arthroconidia, from strains across a sizeable area of the epizootic range. Our analyses revealed evidence of adaptation along geographic gradients during its expansion. The results have implications for understanding the diversification of P. destructans and the limits of WNS spread in North America. Given the rapidly expanding distribution of WNS, a detailed understanding of the genetic bases for phenotypic variations in growth, reproduction, and dispersal of P. destructans is urgently needed to help control this disease.

authors

  • Forsythe, Adrian
  • Giglio, Victoria
  • Asa, Jonathan
  • Xu, Jianping

publication date

  • August 15, 2018