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Decontamination of Bat White Nose Syndrome Affected Sites


Our researcher’s discovered a cold-adapted biocontrol strain Trichoderma polysporum (Tp) WPM 39143 with unique inhibitory activities against Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), the sole etiologic agent of bat White Nose Syndrome (WNS).   Trichoderma polysporum WPM 39143 has two unique properties. It is well-adapted for growth at temperatures prevalent in bat hibernating sites; the inhibitory activities of Tp are specific against Pd and other fungi from these sites are not affected. Thus, a novel biocontrol agent is described for remediation of WNS affected sites without impacting other native microbes.

In 2006, large numbers of bats were discovered dead or dying from a white mycelial growth on the bat’s muzzle, body and wings in a cave near Albany, New York.  The whitish appearance of fungal growth on the bats muzzle led to it being named White Nose Syndrome (WNS).  Since then, 25 U.S. states and 5 provinces in Canada have seen a rapid spread of the disease resulting in the death of 6 million bats.  Current hypotheses suggest this is an invasive fungal species from Europe, but little is known about the diversity within the genus.

Bats are necessary for the ecosystem including control of insect populations.  For example, one little brown bat can catch and eat 600 mosquitoes in one hour. When we think about pollination, typically we think of bird and bees.  Most people are unaware that bats play a huge role in pollination.  Where the birds and the bees take the day shift, the bats take the night shift.  Bats pollenate not only flowers but many types of fruit in the world including bananas, mangos and peaches.  They are able to fly great distances before they drop seeds which also help to keep areas of growth highly diversified.  To date, the most seriously affected species of bat affected is Myotis lucifugus (“little brown bat”).  The projected regional extinction of M. lucifugus could lead to a serious imbalance in the ecosystem with unforeseen consequences.


Many caves will have constantly low temperatures at around 3 – 7 oC and some of the fungi may be psychrotolerant or psychrophilic.  Based on phenotypic (colony morphology and microscopy) and genotypic (ITS 28S rRNA analysis), our novel strain is Trichoderma polysporum WPM 39143.  Discovered in the original cave/epicenter, its growth is between 6 – 22 oC, therefore psychrotolerant.  This is a desirable direction in biocontrol for fungi because we propose using a fungus to inhibit another fungus, which is environmentally friendly and inexpensive.  Additionally, Trichoderma spp. have been successfully used for decades to control a wide range of soil diseases and very few Trichoderma species are psychrotolerant.


  • Biocontrol of Pseudogymnoascus destructans, the etiological agent of White Nose Syndrome at heavily infested sites
  • Preventative use at sites presently free from WNS to interrupt the transmission cycle of Pd infection.


  • Potent inhibitor of Pd in both laboratory media and in autoclaved soil
  • Unique ability to grow at low temperatures (6 – 22 oC) and high humidity (60-100%)  i.e. cave environments that sustain bats during hibernation
  • High recovery of Tp strain from laboratory media and autoclaved soil attesting to good survival and proliferation
  • No inhibitory activity against closely related fungus Geomnyces pannorum sensu lato

State of Development

Morphological and molecular characterizations have been completed for the unique psychrotolerant strain of Trichoderma polysporum (Tp) WPM 39143 isolated from one of the caves at the epicenter of WNS zoonotic.

  • Productions of Tp propagules have been standardized, and laboratory and field testing conditions optimized for scale-up operations.
  • USPTO patent pending


Sudha Chaturvedi, Ph.D.
Vishnu Chaturvedi, Ph.D.
Tao Zhang, Ph.D.

Relevant Publications

Zhang T, Chaturvedi V, Chaturvedi, S. Novel Trichoderma polysporum Strain for the Biocontrol of Pseudogymnascus destructans, the Fungal Etiologic Agent of Bat White Nose Syndrome. PloS One 2015 Oct 28;10(10) e0141316 doi:10.1371/journal pone 0141316.

Zhang T, Victor TR, Rajkumar SS, Li X, Okoniewski JC, Hicks AC, Davis AD, Broussard K, LaDeau SL, Chaturvedi S, Chaturvedi V.  Mycobiome of the bat white nose syndrome affected caves and mines reveals diversity of fungi and local adaptation by the fungal pathogen Pseudogymnoascus (Geomyces) destructans. PloS One 2014 Sept 29;9(9):e108714. Doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0108714


Diane L. Borghoff, B.S., M.S.
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