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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Peoria, Illinois » National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research » Crop Bioprotection Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #331315

Research Project: Use of Microorganisms to Manage Weeds and Insect Pests in Turf and Agricultural Systems

Location: Crop Bioprotection Research

Title: Western bats as a reservoir of novel Streptomyces species with antifungal activity.

item HAMM, PARIS - Western Illinois University
item CAIMI, NICOLE - University Of New Mexico
item NORTHUP, DIANA - University Of New Mexico
item VALDEZ, ERNEST - Us Geological Survey, Fort Collins Science Center
item BUECHER, DEBBIE - Buecher Biological Consulting
item Dunlap, Christopher
item Labeda, David
item Lueschow, Shiloh
item PORRAS-ALFARO, ANDREA - Western Illinois University

Submitted to: Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/13/2016
Publication Date: 3/1/2017
Publication URL:
Citation: Hamm, P.S., Caimi, N.A., Northup, D.E., Valdez, E.W., Buecher, D.C., Dunlap, C.A., Labeda, D.P., Lueschow, S.R., Porras-Alfaro, A. 2017. Western bats as a reservoir of novel Streptomyces species with antifungal activity. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 83:e03057-03016. doi: 10.1128/AEM.03057-16.

Interpretive Summary: ARS researchers from Peoria, IL collaborated with scientists from Western Illinois University and the University of New Mexico to characterize the bacteria found on healthy western bats. The bacteria were then screened for the ability to antagonize the growth of the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome in bats. White-nose syndrome is a devastating disease that has killed many bats since its introduction a decade ago. The research identified several bacteria that inhibited the disease pathogen. Bats play an important ecological role in U.S. agriculture by serving as pollinators and eating insects that damage crops. The bacteria identified in this study will be evaluated later to determine their potential to control the disease in the field. This research benefits U.S. farmers and consumers that rely on crops impacted by the loss of these natural pollinators and insect predators.

Technical Abstract: White-nose syndrome (WNS), a bat infection caused by the psychrophilic (cold-loving) fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, has caused the death of more than six million bats. In this study we evaluate the biocontrol potential of naturally occurring Actinobacteria isolated from WNS-free bats from New Mexico and Arizona. At least two-thirds of commercial antibiotics are derived from Actinobacteria, more specifically from the genus Streptomyces. We tested 632 Actinobacteria using a bi-layer plate method from 12 different bat species. Thirty-six Actinobacteria inhibited or stopped the growth of P. destructans with 32 (88.9%) in the genus Streptomyces. Isolates in the genera Rhodococcus, Streptosporangium, Luteipulveratus, and Nocardiopsis also showed inhibition. Twenty-three of the isolates with antifungal activity against P. destructans represent 13 novel Streptomyces sp. after multi-gene analysis. Our results suggest that bats in western North America possess bacterial microbiota with the potential to inhibit P. destructans in situ. Microbiota associated with Western bats could be explored as potential treatment of WNS and may provide insights on the vulnerability of western bat species.