Before the discovery of white-nose syndrome (WNS), a fungal disease caused by Pseudogymnoascus destructans, there were no reports of fungal skin infections in bats during hibernation. In 2011, bats with grossly visible fungal skin infections similar in appearance to WNS were reported from multiple sites in Wisconsin, US, a state outside the known range of P. destructans and WNS at that time. Tape impressions or swab samples were collected from affected areas of skin from bats with these fungal infections in 2012 and analyzed by microscopy, culture, or direct DNA amplification and sequencing of the fungal internal transcribed spacer region (ITS). A psychrophilic species of Trichophyton was isolated in culture, detected by direct DNA amplification and sequencing, and observed on tape impressions. Deoxyribonucleic acid indicative of the same fungus was also detected on three of five bat carcasses collected in 2011 and 2012 from Wisconsin, Indiana, and Texas, US. Superficial fungal skin infections caused by Trichophyton sp. were observed in histopathology for all three bats. Sequencing of the ITS of Trichophyton sp., along with its inability to grow at 25 C, indicated that it represented a previously unknown species, described herein as Trichophyton redellii sp. nov. Genetic diversity present within T. redellii suggests it is native to North America but that it had been overlooked before enhanced efforts to study fungi associated with bats in response to the emergence of WNS.
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Vol. 51 • No. 1