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NEW FUNGI SPECIES DISCOVERED IN CHINA

  • Category
    Environment
  • Published
    9th Jul, 2020

A subterranean expedition by a group of researchers in China has led to the discovery of new novel fungal species on bat carcasses.

Context

A subterranean expedition by a group of researchers in China has led to the discovery of new novel fungal species on bat carcasses.

About

In total, seven species were found across two carcasses.

  • The four new species are 
    • Mortierella rhinolophicola
    • M multispora
    • M yunnanensis
    • Neocosmospora pallidimors. 
    • Neocosmospora pallidimors is particularly important as the Neocosmospora genus is known to contain numerous aggressive pathogens that can infect mammals.
  • Three out of the four new species belong to Mortierella, a genus of well-known saprophytic fungi (meaning they obtain nutrients through dissolving organic matter).
  • Fusarium incarnatum, Mucor hiemalis and Trichoderma harzanium comprised the final three species.

Why Bats are important for research?

  • One bat can host many different viruses without getting sick. They are the natural reservoir for the Marburg virus, and Nipah and Hendra viruses, which have caused human disease and outbreaks across different countries.
  • Their tolerance of viruses, which surpasses that of other mammals, is one of their many distinctive qualities.
  • They are the only flying mammals, they devour disease-carrying insects by the ton, and they are essential in the pollination of many fruits, like bananas, avocados and mangoes.
  • They are also an incredibly diverse group, making up about a quarter of all mammalian species.
  • But their ability to coexist with viruses that can spill over to other animals, in particular humans, can have devastating consequences when we eat them, trade them in livestock markets and invade their territory.

Significance of the study

  • The study highlighted the importance of understanding relationships between fungal species and other cave organisms, for they may have serious ecological and economic implications.
  • Greater research into the interactions of these fungal species is required. Currently, there is renewed urgency to understand cave ecosystems as reservoirs of biological diversity and frontiers of scientific exploration.
  • It is hoped that the discovery could trigger a wave of research on fungal species in bats as it did in the case of the White-nose syndrome. 
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