When behaving as a pathogen, P.destructans invades the epidermal tissue of the bat, replacing hair follicles and sebaceous glands disrupting their normal hibernation behavior and their homeostatic processes1. P.destructans has two remarkable microscopic identifying characteristics: cupping erosions that become prominent within the inflamed wing membranes of the bats, and the signature curved conidia2. The physiological effects of the WNS are not fully understood, however the method by which P. destructans kills bats is under active investigation. Recently, a multistage model was proposed outlining the physiological effects of WNS leading to respiratory acidosis, skin lesions (due to fungal hyphae invasion of the epidermis of wings), dehydration and depletion of fat. Bats have a limited amount of fat reserves during the hibernation period, and an increase in the frequency of arousal from torpor obligates a bat’s metabolism to consume twice more energy than non-infected bats. Depletion of fat reserves induces bats to become emaciated and die3. There has also been some investigation into the pathophysiology, indicating the hypertonic dehydration and metabolic acidosis are the major cause of mortality. The researchers also described a mechanistic model that shows the damaged tissue to the change in the bats homeostasis and the ultimate morbidity and mortality caused by the fungal infection4.
1Lilley et al. 2016, Foley et al. 2010
2Meteyer et al.2009, Verant et al. 2012, Lorch et al. 2011
3Verant et al, 2014
4Waenecke et al, 2013