Geomyces destructans, the fungus that causes white nose syndrome in bats, is difficult to identify. The parts that are external to an infected bat, brush off easily, and DNA tests have a hard time discerning G. destructans from other fungi in the genus, which are soil-dwelling organisms that are very common in caves.
The journal Mycologia has published an on-line before print article describing a TaqMan polymerase chain reaction test to identify the fungus’s DNA. The key to not picking up any of the 43 other fungi in the genus (or other closely-related fungi) appears to be focusing on the multicopy intergenic spacer region of the rRNA gene complex.
This innovation should allow diagnostic laboratories to identify G. destructans more quickly.
Read the Mycologia article (requires subscription or fee).
Photo: Little brown bat with white nose syndrome, courtesy of Missouri Dept. of Conservation