Bioscience

‘Ill’ wind blowing globally

October 11, 2009

By Flinn Foundation

[Source: Arizona Daily Sun] – In the world of bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses, the planet is growing ever more interconnected, and possibly ill, say some researchers meeting in Flagstaff.

Take six species of New England bats, newly affected by a fungus that spreads during winter hibernation.

It causes wings to deteriorate and the bats to die en masse, creating the worst mortality rate the world’s bats have ever seen, said David Blehert, of U.S. Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center.

It’s expected to sweep from New York to possibly Tennessee and the Midwest within a few years.

That fungus might have been imported here from Europe, which has different bats that have built up more immunity and don’t die from it as easily.

These are some of the types of questions probed by researchers like Jeff Foster and Paul Keim at the Center for Microbial Genetics and Genomics at Northern Arizona University.

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