|bat photo by PD-USGov [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons|
I recently came across a very exciting and hopeful story concerning a possible preventative for WNS. Bats in Missouri were successfully treated with a bacterium that releases fungus killing Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) and then released. The culprit of WNS is a fungus that grows in fuzzy white clumps on the bats face, hence the "white-nose" name. The most interesting part of this story is that the cure came from research in something completely different- bananas!
Researchers were studying ways to prolong the ripening process in fruits that are shipped long distances before they are consumed. They found that the bacterium R. rhodochrous delayed ripening, but also prevented fungus from developing. A light bulb went off for a graduate student working on this study, and researchers got to work on seeing if this could also aid in preventing bat death as a result of WNS. Although it is not a cure for WNS, it can help to prevent it from spreading or becoming worse. There are many ways you can become informed and prevent the spread of WNS too. Check out this website to find out more.
What else can we learn from bats? Check out the articles, resources, lesson ideas and book selections below to help you teach and learn about these fascinating animals.
- Nature Blog: "Bananas to Bats: The Science Behind the First Bats Successfully Treated for White-Nose Syndrome"
- Science Netlinks: "Common Bats Suddenly Endangered"
- Science Magazine: "Bats Open Wide to Focus Their Ultrasonic Beams"
- Share it! Science News: "Jam Masters: How Bats Jam Each Others Signals"
Some Book Suggestions (affiliate links):
- Bat Week
- Bat Conservation International
- White-Nose Syndrome
- Bat Echolocation Activity
- Big Brown Bat Species Sheet
- Merlin Tuttle- Bat Expert (great resource for incredible bat photos)
- Bat Myths- from Ranger Rick and the NWF
- Bat Conservation Myths and Facts
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