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Bat fungus probed by West Conn researchers

Two local researchers are trying to find a quicker and cheaper way to detect a fungus that has killed millions of bats, and in some cases, wiped out entire cave populations in North America.

More than 6 million bats have died since white nose syndrome appeared in the U.S. about a decade ago.

In Connecticut, the little brown bat, the tri-colored bat and the northern long-eared bat have all lost significant numbers.

The disease is caused by a fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, which infects hibernating bats’ muzzles, ears, and wings, giving the disease its name. There are two main techniques used to find this fungus, but one isn’t very effective and the other is too expensive for most to use because it requires a machine that costs a minimum of $10,000.

“We’re trying to make it cheaper and easier to detect,” said Hannah Reynolds, an assistant biology professor at Western Connecticut State University, who has spent the summer working with Jasmine Grey, a junior at the university, to develop a new method.

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