Date of Thesis

5-5-2016

Thesis Type

Honors Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)

Degree Type

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Biology

First Advisor

Kenneth Field

Abstract

White-nose syndrome (WNS) in North American bats is caused by an invasive cutaneous infection by the psychrophilic fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans (P. destructans). In a previous study, we used a dual RNA-Seq approach, which allowed us to gain insight into the gene expression of both the host and the pathogen simultaneously, and we observed differences in P. destructans gene expression that suggest host-pathogen interactions that might determine WNS progression. More recently we compared transcriptome-wide changes in gene expression levels in P. destructans grown on and actively infecting the wing of a bat (infecting pathogen) with P. destructans grown in culture (free pathogen). We predicted that some of the putative virulence factors seen in the previous dual RNA-seq study would be more highly expressed in the infecting P. destructans grown on bat wings as compared to free P. destructans grown in culture. We identified several classes of potential virulence factors that are expressed in P. destructans during WNS, including metal-ion transporters to assist in resisting nutritional immunity, factors involved in cell repair and protection, and factors involved in microbiome competition. These putative virulence factors may provide novel targets for treatment or prevention of WNS.

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