Talk by Dr. Katherine Haase (Microbiology and Immunology Dept, MSU)

3/14/2019  Wilson Hall 1-144  3:10-4:00pm


The epidemiological triad describes the importance of environmental conditions for hosts and pathogens. Across a range of environmental conditions, differential responses of host and pathogen can alter disease outcomes. Environmental conditions are especially important in white-nose syndrome (WNS), a fungal disease of hibernating bats. Previous modelling efforts focused on temperature effects, but not humidity. We integrated temperature and humidity effects in a bioenergetic model, including effects of fungal infection. We parameterized the model with data for Myotis lucifugus, a species that experiences high mortality from WNS. In saturating conditions, our model predicts survival of healthy bats as they experience minimal evaporative water loss (EWL). Infected bats, however, suffer high fungal growth and EWL in saturating conditions, leading to consumption of fat stores before winter concludes. At moderate humidity, fungal growth is reduced and infected bats survive longer. Our results suggest physiological trade-offs between water and fat conservation determine WNS survival.