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Tuesday, January 30 • 4:00pm - 4:20pm
SMALL MAMMALS: Testing the Efficacy of Chitosan as a Potential Treatment for White-Nose Syndrome

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AUTHORS. Maarten J. Vonhof, Western Michigan University; Timothy C. Carter, Ball State University; Sudha Chaturvedi, NY State Department of Health; Charles D. Mackenzie, Michigan State University; Amanpreet Singh, NY State Department of Health; Rob R. Eversole, Western Michigan University

ABSTRACT. As white-nose syndrome (WNS) continues to increase in prevalence and expand across North America there is an urgent need to develop mechanisms and strategies to reduce mortality rates and limit transmission to new regions. Chitosan is naturally-occurring biopolymer with powerful antimicrobial and wound-healing properties, and is fully biocompatible, biodegradable, and nontoxic. Here we summarize the findings of our laboratory and field studies to test the efficacy of chitosan for the prevention and treatment of WNS. Our data show that concentrations of 0.1% chitosan or above completely inhibit growth of Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), and have a fungicidal effect, killing over 95% of treated cells. Five times as much chitosan was required to prevent growth of other tested cave fungi (e.g., Kernia, Penicillium, Pseudorotium, Trichosporiella), suggesting that application of 0.1% chitosan may have reduced impacts on native bat and cave mycobiomes. Treatment of experimentally-infected bats with 0.1% chitosan in the laboratory did not result in lower Pd loads on wings or altered arousal behavior relative to infected controls. However, chitosan-treated bats had higher survival and reduced Pdpenetration and damage in the tissues of the muzzle, particularly in the nasal cavity and turbinates, relative to infected controls. In 2016-17 we initiated field trials in three sites in Illinois and Michigan, and we will provide an update on their progress. Overall, our studies show that chitosan is a promising tool to reduce Pd-induced tissue damage and mortality in bats, and one that could be tested as a fungicidal agent for site treatment.

Tuesday January 30, 2018 4:00pm - 4:20pm CST