Bringing a fungus to light, or vice versa…

Hi everyone! I hope you all had a good week. I was sad on Thursday because it had snowed the night before, and I STILL HAD SCHOOL!!! There was at least half a millimeter of snow on the cars when I woke up in the morning. The sidewalks were damp. It was obvious to all Fairfax County Public School students that there should at least be a delay. I mean, they’ve cancelled school for less in the past. But, nothing! I had to go to school on time! The injustice of it all was overwhelming!

Ok, I feel better now…

Pencil drawings of a tricolor bat, a little brown bat, and a northern long-ear bat, with the caption "Amazing disappearing bats! Vanishing soon from a cave near you!"
illustrations by Lois Auer

I have some good news in the world of bats! Scientists might be on the verge of a breakthrough in eradicating White Nose Syndrome! As many of you know, the fungus most likely began in Eurasia, and the bats over there seem to be immune to it. The bats here in North America, however, are not. Little Brown bat populations have dropped 90 percent since White Nose Syndrome first appeared in New York. And, Tricolored and Northern-long Eared bat populations have dropped 97 percent. White Nose Syndrome even snuck its way west of the Rockies. There has been no news of any hope for a cure except for relying on time and evolution, until now.

Hundreds of researchers have been trying for years to find a way to stop, or at least slow down, this deadly disease, with no luck. New research is beginning to show some hope of a solution. A study led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been looking into the genomics of the fungus that causes White Nose Syndrome. They have discovered that this fungus is missing an enzyme that allows it to repair its DNA after it’s been exposed to UV light. They are now working on finding a dose of UV light that will damage the cells of the fungus without damaging any bat cells, or hurting the bats’ eyes. The hope is that they can develop something that can be used in the caves where bats are hibernating. If it works, it can be used in a lot of caves, saving many lives.

If you would like to read more about this promising research, you can find it here.

I hope you all have a good week. It is supposed to snow again on Sunday night. We might get almost an inch! Here’s hoping FCPS comes through for me this time around.

 

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