Assessment of the portable C-320 electronic nose for discrimination of nine insectivorous bat species: Implications for monitoring White-Nose Syndrome
The development of new C-320 electronic-nose (e-nose) methods for pre-symptomatic detection ofWhite-Nose Syndrome (WNS) in bats has required efficacy studies of instrument capabilities to discriminate between major sources of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) derived from clinical samples. In this phase-2 study, we further tested this e-nose for capabilities to distinguish between bat species based on differences in whole-body VOC emissions. Live healthy individuals of nine bat species were temporarily captured outside of caves in Arkansas and Louisiana. VOC emissions from bats were collected using newly developed portable air collection and sampling-chamber devices in tandem. Sensor-array output responses to bat VOC emissions were compared to those of 22 pure VOC analytical standards fromfive chemical classes. Distinct smellprint signatureswere produced frome-nose analyses of VOC metabolites derived from individual bat species. Smellprint patterns were analyzed using 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional Principal Component Analysis (PCA) to produce aroma map plots showing effective discrimination between bat species with high statistical significance. These results demonstrate potential instrument efficacy for distinguishing between species-specific, bat-derived VOC metabolite emissions as major components of clinical samples collected from bats in caves for disease detection prior to symptom development. This study provided additional information required to fully test the efficacy of a portable e-nose instrument for diagnostic applications in subsequent phase-3 testing of noninvasive, early WNS disease detection in intra-cave hibernating bats.