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First isolation of Pseudogymnoascus destructans in bats from Portugal


The psychrophilic fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans (formerly known as Geomyces destructans) is considered the etiological agent of white-nose disease (WND), an emerging disease which affects bats during their hibernation period. This disease is clinically characterized by the growth of a white fungus on muzzle, ears, and wings’ membranes of affected bats. This infection caused the death of several million bats in North America. Conversely, European bats show no evidence of significant mortality occurrences associated with P. destructans colonization. This fungus has been isolated from bats in at least 15 European countries since 2008, but was never before reported in the Iberian Peninsula. This study describes the first case report of P. destructans colonization in bats from Portugal. We isolated P. destructans from three hibernating Myotis blythii (lesser mouse-eared bat) with visual signs of P. destructans colonization, during a routine visit to a mine located in the Trás-os-Montes region, Northern Portugal. M. blythii is one of the rarest bat species in Europe, classified as critically endangered in Portugal. P. destructans was obtained from at least three different parts of the body of each specimen analyzed. The identification of the respective fungal isolates was based on the macroscopic and microscopic characterization of the cultures and confirmed by PCR-based analysis. All nucleotide sequences obtained showed 100 % identity with previous data reported for P. destructans. This new finding improves the current knowledge about the European distribution of P. destructans, which is of great interest for forthcoming studies on the fungus dispersion and impact among bat populations at regional and/or global level.

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This study was supported by funding from several ecological monitoring projects of the Laboratory of Applied Ecology (University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro) and by Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) through the project PEst-OE/AGR/UI4033/2014 and the PhD Grant SFRH/BD/77872/2011.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Maria das Neves Paiva-Cardoso.

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Communicated by C. Gortázar

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Paiva-Cardoso, M.d.N., Morinha, F., Barros, P. et al. First isolation of Pseudogymnoascus destructans in bats from Portugal. Eur J Wildl Res 60, 645–649 (2014).

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  • Pseudogymnoascus destructans
  • White-nose disease
  • WND
  • Bat
  • Myotis blythii
  • Portugal