Hibernation allows animals to survive periods of resource scarcity by reducing their energy expenditure through decreased metabolism. However, hibernators become susceptible to psychrophilic pathogens if they cannot mount an efficient immune response to infection. While Nearctic bats infected with white-nose syndrome (WNS) suffer high mortality, related Palearctic taxa are better able to survive the disease than their Nearctic counterparts. We hypothesised that WNS exerted historical selective pressure in Palearctic bats, resulting in genomic changes that promote infection tolerance.
Journal: BMC zoology