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Hemotropic mycoplasmas in little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus).

  • Author(s): Mascarelli, Patricia E
  • Keel, Michael K
  • Yabsley, Michael
  • Last, Lisa A
  • Breitschwerdt, Edward B
  • Maggi, Ricardo G
  • et al.
Abstract

Background

Hemotropic mycoplasmas are epicellular erythrocytic bacteria that can cause infectious anemia in some mammalian species. Worldwide, hemotropic mycoplasmas are emerging or re-emerging zoonotic pathogens potentially causing serious and significant health problems in wildlife. The objective of this study was to determine the molecular prevalence of hemotropic Mycoplasma species in little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus) with and without Pseudogymnoascus (Geomyces) destrucans, the causative agent of white nose syndrome (WNS) that causes significant mortality events in bats.

Methods

In order to establish the prevalence of hemotropic Mycoplasma species in a population of 68 little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus) with (n = 53) and without (n = 15) white-nose syndrome (WNS), PCR was performed targeting the 16S rRNA gene.

Results

The overall prevalence of hemotropic Mycoplasmas in bats was 47%, with similar (p = 0.5725) prevalence between bats with WNS (49%) and without WNS (40%). 16S rDNA sequence analysis (~1,200 bp) supports the presence of a novel hemotropic Mycoplasma species with 91.75% sequence homology with Mycoplasma haemomuris. No differences were found in gene sequences generated from WNS and non-WNS animals.

Conclusions

Gene sequences generated from WNS and non-WNS animals suggest that little brown bats could serve as a natural reservoir for this potentially novel Mycoplasma species. Currently, there is minimal information about the prevalence, host-specificity, or the route of transmission of hemotropic Mycoplasma spp. among bats. Finally, the potential role of hemotropic Mycoplasma spp. as co-factors in the development of disease manifestations in bats, including WNS in Myotis lucifugus, remains to be elucidated.

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