Geomyces destructans is a fungus associated with the disease, White Nose Syndrome, which is decimating bat colonies all around the country. First discovered in Maine in 2006, the fungus has spread as far west as Oklahoma, leaving thousands of dead bats in its wake. The fungus is believed to disrupt the bat's hibernation cycle, which is very fragile, by waking them early in the winter. The bats then use up their fat stores before it is warm enough and they perish in the cold. The fungus only grows in low temperatures, ideally 6 degrees Celsius, which is why it flourishes so well in many caves where bats hibernate. Since fungal species do not usually grow well on mammals, it is hypothesized that the bats immune system is slightly suppressed whilst hibernating, allowing the fungus to take hold. It is unknown how far the fungus has traveled so far or it's main method of transmission, though humans are suspected of aiding in its travel. The same fungus has been documented on bats in Europe, but without the syndrome. It is hypothesized that the fungus passed through Europe a long time ago and this is the reason the bat populations are so small there. Someone may have inadvertently carried the fungus from Europe to the U.S., where it found new hosts.

For more information on White Nose Syndrome, visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife website.


I am an undergraduate researcher at Northup Research labs at the University of New Mexico and I am collaborating with several other members of the lab in studying the Geomyces Destructans fungus and its association with White Nose Syndrome in bats. We are currently studying ten caves in the El Malpais National Monument. We have taken soil samples and swabs from each cave, as well as collected several dead bats for testing. We are currently midway through subculturing our samples with plans to begin extracting and sequencing our cultures in the next month. 11/28/10

Project Objectives:

We are attempting to complete a few objectives with our research. First we want to see if we can culture Geomyces destructans on either Potato Dextrose agar, Malt Extract Agar, or on an agar made from ground peacock feathers. Original idea for peacock feather agar comes from Diana Northup and Adrea Porras-Alfaro. Once we determine if we can grow it on one of these medias, we will answer our main question, which is whether or not Geomyces destructans is present in New Mexico caves.

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TitleAssigned ToStatusPriorityDue Date% Complete
Subculture and extract soil samples Project Manager 1.) Active 2.) Medium October 1, 2009 60% 
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  • Untitled Post We have just finished subculturing Classic Cave and have only 2 caves remaining before we can begin sequencing. Plans have been made to observe stained cultures under the microscope in ...
    Posted Nov 30, 2010, 11:01 AM by Ali Ghadimi
  • Project Plan has been updated New project plan has been uploaded to Project Documents area.
    Posted Nov 22, 2010, 10:27 AM by Ali Ghadimi
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