GSU Feature: What’s Killing America’s Bats?

LaTina Emerson of Georgia State University’s Public Relations recently interviewed Dr. Chris Cornelison for a feature story about white-nose syndrome, titled “What’s Killing America’s Bats?

For the past two years, Cornelison has been working with scientists at the U.S. Forest Service on a treatment for white-nose syndrome. They completed field trials last winter on diseased bats from four caves, two in Missouri and two in Kentucky.

In May, they were able to release dozens of these bats back into the wild. It’s a major breakthrough for bats suffering from this disease to survive the winter.

So what was the magic treatment? Tiny bacteria.

As a Ph.D. student, Cornelison learned about Dr. George Pierce’s work with Rhodococcus rhodochrous, a strain of abundant, soil-dwelling bacteria. Pierce, a professor of biology at Georgia State, originally discovered that growing these bacteria under specific conditions, a process called induction, enhances their metabolic activity and delays the ripening of fruit or vegetables. Produce doesn’t have to touch the bacteria—just sharing air space delays ripening for up to 14 days without refrigeration. Produce exposed to the bacteria also grows less fungus.

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