Understanding Differences Between Susceptibility and Resistance to White-Nose Syndrome in Bats: Methodological Optimization
White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a fungal disease that infects hibernating bats of multiple species across large portions of eastern North America. To date, WNS has been responsible for the deaths of over seven million bats. It is not yet known why certain species are able to resist infection. Since the fungus invades the skin and some resistant species show no signs of the characteristic cutaneous lesions, it seems likely that resistant species contain specific defense mechanisms within their skin, such as antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) and other immunologically relevant proteins expressed by specific cell types or as secreted soluble components. Proteomics could be a useful tool for understanding differences in susceptibility, and could help identify AMPs that could be synthesized and used as control agents against the spread of the causative fungus. This study is the first to optimize proteomics methods for bat wing tissues in order to compare the skin proteomes of species variably impacted by WNS, including those of two endangered species. Further tests are planned to investigate methods of increasing protein yield without altering the size of the tissue sample collected, as well as the analysis of mass spectrometry data from processed skin tissues of five bat species differentially affected by WNS.