BackgroundThe recently-identified causative agent of White-Nose Syndrome (WNS), Pseudogymnoascus destructans, has been responsible for the mortality of an estimated 5.5 million North American bats since its emergence in 2006. A primary focus of the National Response Plan, established by multiple state, federal and tribal agencies in 2011, was the identification of biological control options for WNS. In an effort to identify potential biological control options for WNS, multiply induced cells of Rhodococcus rhodochrous strain DAP96253 was screened for anti-P. destructans activity.
ResultsConidia and mycelial plugs of P. destructans were exposed to induced R. rhodochrous in a closed air-space at 15°C, 7°C and 4°C and were evaluated for contact-independent inhibition of conidia germination and mycelial extension with positive results. Additionally, in situ application methods for induced R. rhodochrous, such as fixed-cell catalyst and fermentation cell-paste in non-growth conditions, were screened with positive results. R. rhodochrous was assayed for ex vivo activity via exposure to bat tissue explants inoculated with P. destructans conidia. Induced R. rhodochrous completely inhibited growth from conidia at 15°C and had a strong fungistatic effect at 4°C. Induced R. rhodochrous inhibited P. destructans growth from conidia when cultured in a shared air-space with bat tissue explants inoculated with P. destructans conidia.
ConclusionThe identification of inducible biological agents with contact-independent anti- P. destructans activity is a major milestone in the development of viable biological control options for in situ application and provides the first example of contact-independent antagonism of this devastating wildlife pathogen.