Have you ever heard about white-nose syndrome? White-nose syndrome is caused by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus dstructans, or P. destructans, which resulted a significant decrease in the Bat population in North America. However, recently, a team of scientists from the U.S Forest Service, U.S. Department of New Hampshire found out that UV light could be a treatment for the white-nose syndrome.
P. destructans can only transmit white-nose syndrome to bats during hibernation because its growth temperature range is highly limited to 39-68 degrees Fahrenheit. The problem is that it is not easy to treat bats during hibernation.
During the research, the researchers supposed that P. destructans is a true fungal pathogen that evolved alongside bat species in Europe and Asia for a long time, allowing Eurasian bats to have immunity against P. destructans. When comparing P. destructans to six related fungi, the research team found that P. destructans cannot repair DNA damage caused by UV light and observed that less than 1 percent of P. destructans survived when they were exposed to moderate UV-C light. Using comparative genomics and previous data from the study, the researchers concluded that the P. destructans does not have the repair enzymes for UV light, and UV light can be a possible treatment for the white-nose syndrome. The director of the Forest Service’s Northern Research Station and the Forest Products Laboratory Tony Ferguson says that this research does not only affects bats, but also have a huge influence to people since bats are helpful in developing the health of forests and production of food.
Most organisms that live in dark have the ability to repair DNA damage; However, P. destructans does not. “It is an unusual case,” Jon Palmer, the lead author of the study, says, “we are very hopeful that the fungus’ extreme vulnerability to UV light can be exploited to manage the disease and save bats.” The only process left for the researcher is to develop the UV light treatment that can be applied practically to the bats.