WBEZ | fungus http://www.wbez.org/tags/fungus Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Worrisome Bat-Disease Map Shouldn't Make People Fear Bats http://www.wbez.org/news/worrisome-bat-disease-map-shouldnt-make-people-fear-bats-114617 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/fruitbat.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Poor bats. Already typecast as movie villains and Halloween bad guys, the persecuted creatures have also been pummeled recently by a rapidly spreading&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/01/13/376092152/good-news-for-bats-things-are-looking-up-for-stemming-disease-spread">fungal disease</a>. Now this.</p><p>A&nbsp;<a href="http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/full/10.1086/684391">new map</a>&nbsp;published in the February edition of&nbsp;<em>The American Naturalist&nbsp;</em>highlights the hot spots where diseases are most likely to spill over from winged to bipedal mammals.</p><p>The biggest hot spot is in sub-Saharan Africa, where people continue to hunt bats as bushmeat. Southeast Asia is another danger zone.</p><p>A large swath of South America, meanwhile, emerged as a region where bats carry a particularly diverse array of viruses, although contact between bats and people there happens less frequently.</p><div id="res462404061" previewtitle="The map shows hot spots where the risk is highest for bats passing diseases to humans, based on degree of bat-human contact and number of diseases carried by regional bats. Red is superhot. Green is cool. Yellow is in the middle."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="The map shows hot spots where the risk is highest for bats passing diseases to humans, based on degree of bat-human contact and number of diseases carried by regional bats. Red is superhot. Green is cool. Yellow is in the middle." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/08/bat-map_custom-7129551e42a12a47dd215df8b0c08785fd532c64-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 248px; width: 620px;" title="The map shows hot spots where the risk is highest for bats passing diseases to humans, based on degree of bat-human contact and number of diseases carried by regional bats. Red is superhot. Green is cool. Yellow is in the middle. (Courtesy The American Naturalist)" /></div><div><div><p>By identifying areas where the variety of viruses is richest and the risk for transmission is highest, the team hopes to help focus resources on the most important targets for research and public health efforts.</p></div></div></div><p>&quot;What we&#39;re trying to do is point out these high-risk areas so that we can find out why they&#39;re high risk,&quot; says&nbsp;<a href="https://www.wiki.ed.ac.uk/display/Epigroup/Liam+Brierley">Liam Brierley</a>, a disease ecologist at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom and co-author of the article about zoonotic bat viruses that featured the map. Another hope is to stop diseases from spreading beyond bats in the first place.</p><p>For reasons that aren&#39;t exactly clear, bats are particularly good at carrying diseases that also infect people. At his last count, Brierley says, the list of shared viruses totaled 33. Researchers now suspect that Ebola likely occurred in bats before infecting primates and then people. Bats have also been implicated in the spread of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.who.int/csr/sars/en/">SARS</a>, rabies and more.</p><p><a href="http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article">Previous studies</a><a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2016/01/08/462401329/worrisome-bat-disease-map-shouldnt-make-people-fear-bats?ft=nprml&amp;f=462401329#_msocom_1" name="_msoanchor_1" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(71, 116, 204); -webkit-tap-highlight-color: transparent; text-decoration: none;"></a>&nbsp;have identified some hot spots where new diseases are most likely to spread from wild animals to people. To refine this geographic search for so-called zoonotic diseases with a specific focus on bats, Brierley and colleagues started with more than 100 years of data about which bat species carry which viruses.</p><p>They turned those data into a map showing where the variety of diseases is expected to be greatest. Then they added layers of information about the kinds of situations that increase the risk for bat-to-human disease transmission, such as the expansion of farmland and urban areas into bat habitats.</p><p>The first identified outbreak of the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.who.int/csr/disease/nipah/en/">Nipah virus</a><a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2016/01/08/462401329/worrisome-bat-disease-map-shouldnt-make-people-fear-bats?ft=nprml&amp;f=462401329#_msocom_2" name="_msoanchor_2" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(71, 116, 204); -webkit-tap-highlight-color: transparent; text-decoration: none;"></a>&nbsp;(an often severe and frequently deadly disease that can cause brain inflammation), for example, occurred in the late &#39;90s and was linked to pig farms that bordered bat habitats in Malaysia. Bats very likely dropped fruit into pigpens, Brierley says. The pigs became infected with exposure to bat urine and saliva, and people became infected after close contact with infected pigs. Now people regularly spread the disease to other people in Bangladesh and India.</p><p>Preventing disease transmission from bats is not a lost cause, says&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ecohealthalliance.org/about/experts/35-karesh">William Karesh</a>, a zoonotic disease expert at EcoHealth Alliance, an international conservation organization in New York. One important strategy, he says, is to educate hunters about proper hygiene, like washing hands and avoiding direct contact with bat blood.</p><p>Sometimes, prevention efforts are remarkably simple and cheap, he adds. One outbreak of Nipah virus in Bangladesh was traced to pots left out overnight to collect date palm sap from trees. Bats were contaminating the pots with feces and urine, which was spreading disease as people consumed the sap. All it took was covering the pots at night to keep people from getting sick.</p><p>Another benefit of the new research is that it can give advance warning to the veterinarians and doctors who treat sick livestock and people about where they need to be most alert to the unexpected, Karesh says. Medical professionals in parts of Africa, Asia and South America, in particular, should be on the lookout for new diseases if tests for traditional diseases turn up negative.</p><p>What the results don&#39;t mean, Brierley says, is that people should fear bats. After all, there is plenty of good that bats do for us. They eat insects. And they pollinate some crops, including coffee. It&#39;s not their fault that we keep encroaching on their habitat or that we share susceptibility to so many of the same viruses.</p><p>&quot;We can&#39;t expand into natural bat habitat,&quot; Brierley says, &quot;and then blame the bats.&quot;</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2016/01/08/462401329/worrisome-bat-disease-map-shouldnt-make-people-fear-bats?ft=nprml&amp;f=462401329" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Tue, 26 Jan 2016 11:56:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/worrisome-bat-disease-map-shouldnt-make-people-fear-bats-114617 Deadly Fungus Threatening the Future of Bananas in Asia Could Spread around the World http://www.wbez.org/news/deadly-fungus-threatening-future-bananas-asia-could-spread-around-world-114130 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/1249337589_b11286a6a0_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><div><p>Could the plant fungus called the Panama disease spell doom for&nbsp;the banana as we know it?</p><p>&ldquo;Thousands of varieties of bananas are grown throughout the world, but only one makes it to store shelves. It&rsquo;s a banana known as the Cavendish,&rdquo; says Simran Sethi. She&#39;s author of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.harpercollins.com/9780061581076/bread-wine-chocolate" target="_blank">Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love</a>.&nbsp;The Cavendish is ubiquitous &mdash;&nbsp;the yellow, not-too-sweet, popular banana. &nbsp;</p><p>But the Cavendish is, in a sense, a marked man. It&#39;s&nbsp;facing extinction.&nbsp;That&rsquo;s according to scientists in the Netherlands who have been studying the deadly plant fungus called the Panama disease that&rsquo;s already destroying banana crops in Taiwan, Indonesia and Malaysia. But experts warn that it&rsquo;s only a matter of time&nbsp;before this pernicious plant disease reaches Latin America, where the majority of the world&rsquo;s exported bananas come from.</p><div><div><p>What&rsquo;s interesting, Sethi explains, is that this is not the first time a variety of banana has been wiped out. &ldquo;The Cavendish is the replacement banana for the one banana that used to be on store shelves, which was the Gros Michel back in the 1960s.&rdquo;</p></div></div><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="A man carries bananas at the Tropical Nordeste S.A farm, in Limoeiro do Norte, in Ceara state." src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/original_image/public/RTR4VWAF.jpg?itok=kPnz_o7j" style="height: 415px; width: 620px;" title="A man carries bananas at the Tropical Nordeste S.A farm, in Limoeiro do Norte, in Ceara state. (REUTERS/Davi Pinheiro)" typeof="foaf:Image" /></p><p>Back then, it was a soil fungus that destroyed the Gros Michel and now a variant of that plant disease is threatening the Cavendish. &ldquo;Here it is again,&rdquo; says Sethi. &ldquo;Tropical Race 4, which is a strain of the exact same fungus, is now wiping out the Cavendish. The challenge is we don&rsquo;t really have another banana in its place that&rsquo;s ready to go to offer instead.&rdquo;</p><p>Scientists in the Netherlands report that Tropical Race 4, a variant of the Panama disease, is already destroying banana crops in Taiwan, Indonesia and Malaysia. That may seem far away, especially if the bananas you buy come from Ecuador.&nbsp;But they warn that it&rsquo;s &ldquo;only a matter of time&rdquo; before the pernicious plant disease reaches Latin America, where the majority of the world&rsquo;s exported bananas come from.</p><p>The economic impact of this plant fungus is potentially huge. Cavendish bananas represent nearly one-half of global banana production and exports. &ldquo;It&#39;s remarkable what is happening now to the entire industry, and 15 percent of bananas throughout the world are exported,&quot; Sethi said.&nbsp;&quot;In places like Ecuador, bananas are one of the top exports. We&rsquo;re talking about something that is going to cripple economies.&rdquo;</p><div><img alt="Ecuadorean banana&amp;#039;s farm workers wash bananas during a packing process in Babahoyo." src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/original_image/public/RTR4VXYO.jpg?itok=rmbg-QAX" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Ecuadorean banana's farm workers wash bananas during a packing process in Babahoyo. The banano is one of the star products of Ecuador for Exportation. (REUTERS/Guillermo Granja)" typeof="foaf:Image" /><div><p>And as it turns out, the banana is not the only endangered food. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re not only seeing this with the banana, but we&#39;re seeing this with multiple foods.&nbsp;Slowly, slowly, slowly &mdash;&nbsp;they haven&#39;t yet reached our store shelves here in the United States, but the producing countries are really starting to suffer.&rdquo;</p></div></div><p>One reason the Cavendish is endangered is that it&rsquo;s a monoculture crop. This one variety is grown all over the world, and that makes the crop more vulnerable to disease, says Sethi.&nbsp;&ldquo;Increasingly, most of our food is grown in monoculture as mono-crops. It&#39;s an efficient way to be able to irrigate everything at the same time, treat everything at the same time. But what you should understand is that if one disease comes in, or one pest comes in, it wipes out everything.&rdquo;</p><p>Sethi says it&rsquo;s a familiar story. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s happening now with coffee, we saw this happen with the Irish potato famine,&quot; she says. &quot;Slowly, all these crops that are being grown in monoculture throughout the world are starting to suffer from various types of changes that were in some cases unanticipated and certainly ones that are wreaking more havoc than we would have expected had we grown crops&#39; bio-diversely, grown multiple crops together.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p></div><div><div><p>Meanwhile, agricultural scientists and plant geneticists are working around the clock to develop a new type of banana to replace the Cavendish. But it&rsquo;s a race against time. So far, the fungus appears to be impervious to treatment. Researchers have documented the fungus has spread to Pakistan, Lebanon, Jordan, Mozambique&nbsp;and Queensland, Australia.</p><p>So how soon will our beloved Cavendish bananas <a href="https://twitter.com/Independent/status/672715924118614016" target="_blank">disappear from the shelves</a>?</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s a really good question and I wish I could answer it. But it&#39;s the same kind of variability that we see with climate change,&quot; Sethi says. &quot;We don&#39;t exactly know what will happen but what we do know is everything that we see in the grocery store is going to start to shift. This happened with potatoes, with the Irish potato famine, this isn&rsquo;t new. It&rsquo;s what&rsquo;s happening to coffee, two countries have declared states of emergency because of coffee leaf rust wiping out coffee plantations, and now we see it with bananas. This is something that we will continue to see happening if we don&#39;t start to take more pro-active measures as eaters, and as people who want to support conservation of diversity in foods.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-12-10/deadly-fungus-threatening-future-bananas-asia-and-spreading-everywhere" target="_blank"><em> via PRI&#39;s The World</em></a></p></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 10 Dec 2015 15:55:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/deadly-fungus-threatening-future-bananas-asia-could-spread-around-world-114130 The Encyclopedia Show Presents Series 5, Vol 5: Fungus! http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/encyclopedia-show-presents-series-5-vol-5-fungus-105448 <p><p>The Encyclopedia Show is a live variety extravaganza that commissions local and touring artists and experts from many disciplines to use their individual talents to present a verbal and musical encyclopedia entry each month. Though the show is accredited by the Institute of Human Knowledge and Hygiene, it is our ongoing mission to chafe against logic and proof, find meaning in obfuscation, and wrest truth from fact once and for all.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F78652676" width="736px"></iframe></p><p>This month, the topic of the show will be fungus in all it&#39;s wondrous forms and uses. With presentations on topics like beer made from yeast, the Mushroom Massacre of 1767, and Fungal Sinusitis, we&#39;re sure you&#39;ll take a lichen to our words and jokes, even if they are in spore taste. Performers and guests include&nbsp;<strong>Demetrius Amparan</strong>,&nbsp;<strong>Stephanie Douglas</strong>,&nbsp;<strong>Reggie Eldridge</strong>,<strong>&nbsp;Joe Meno</strong>,&nbsp;<strong>Tim Baltz Schobert</strong>, and&nbsp;<strong>Lynda Barry</strong>.</p><p style="">&nbsp;<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/encyclopediashow-webstory_4.jpg" title="" /></p><p>Recorded Thursday, January 3, 2013 at the Vittum Theater</p></p> Thu, 03 Jan 2013 11:12:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/encyclopedia-show-presents-series-5-vol-5-fungus-105448