A shining bat


Using dust and light to understand infection.


Standing out: a tri-coloured bat coated in fluorescent powder.

Standing out: a tri-coloured bat coated in fluorescent powder.

JOSEPH HOYT

This tri-coloured bat (Perimyotis subflavus) glows in the half-light because it has been coated in fluorescent dust as part of a study striving to understand the rapid transmission of disease within and beyond the species.

Researchers led by Joseph Hoyt from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute used the dust to see how brief and intermittent encounters between bats facilitate the spread of disease.

The results are published in the journal Nature. Hoyt and colleagues hope the findings will help in understanding the sometimes explosive spread of illnesses such as the highly lethal white-nose syndrome, as well as providing insight into zoonotic diseases – those that jump the species barrier into humans – such as Ebola.

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