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Effect of sample preservation methods on the viability of Geomyces destructans, the fungus associated with white-nose syndrome in bats

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Geomyces destructans is a fungus directly associated with white-nose syndrome (WNS), a recently discovered disease that has caused the death of over one million bats in North America and therefore has prompted intense scientific investigation into its biology. If precautions are not taken, the spread of G. destructans by human transportation for scientific study may be a substantial threat to bat populations. We investigated the viability of G. destructans after being exposed to commonly used DNA/RNA preservation methods. Our first experiment revealed that G. destructans is able to germinate after an eight day storage period in RNAlater or kept dry but could not germinate after storage in 70% or absolute ethanol for the same time period. Storing G. destructans samples at different temperatures did not substantially affect the results. In a second experiment, we showed that G. destructans conidia were only killed after being stored in 70% ethanol for a minimum of 24 hours while only 30 minutes were necessary when stored in absolute ethanol. Our results suggest that the DNA/RNA preservation method has an important impact on the ability of G. destructans to remain viable and should therefore be considered before samples are transported, especially to regions where the fungus has not yet been documented. Our results also strongly advocate the use of high concentrations (i.e., absolute) ethanol over 70% ethanol to rapidly kill G. destructans.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 June 2011

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