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Special Issue "Viruses and Bats 2019"

A special issue of Viruses (ISSN 1999-4915). This special issue belongs to the section "Animal Viruses".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 January 2019)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Patrick C.Y. Woo

Department of Microbiology, The University of Hong Kong, University Pathology Building, Queen Mary Hospital Compound, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong, China
Website | E-Mail
Interests: microbial genomics; microbial metabolomics; novel microbes discovery; emerging infectious diseases

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Traditionally, bats are known to be reservoirs of important viruses associated with fatal infections in human, such as rabies virus, Ebola virus, Nipah virus and Hendra virus. Among reported viruses associated with bats, most are RNA viruses. Certain families of bats, including Pteropodidae, Molossidae, Phyllostomidae, and Vespertilionidae, are most frequently associated with known human pathogens. The natural reservoir for SARS coronavirus, which has caused more than 700 deaths globally, was eventually found to be horseshoe bats. In the last ten years or so, the use of conventional PCR/RT-PCR, as well as metagenomics and next generation sequencing technologies, have led to the discovery of an unprecedented number of novel viruses in bats, including some virus families (e.g. picornaviruses) that have never been reported in bats. When MERS coronavirus was first discovered in 2012, it was also found to be closely related to Tylonycteris bat coronavirus HKU4 and Pipistrellus bat coronavirus HKU5 that were discovered in 2006. The present Special Issue covers a wide range of topics related to “Bats and Viruses”.

Prof. Dr. Patrick C.Y. Woo
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Published Papers (21 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Novel Bat Alphacoronaviruses in Southern China Support Chinese Horseshoe Bats as an Important Reservoir for Potential Novel Coronaviruses
Viruses 2019, 11(5), 423; https://doi.org/10.3390/v11050423
Received: 15 April 2019 / Revised: 2 May 2019 / Accepted: 6 May 2019 / Published: 7 May 2019
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Abstract
While bats are increasingly recognized as a source of coronavirus epidemics, the diversity and emergence potential of bat coronaviruses remains to be fully understood. Among 1779 bat samples collected in China, diverse coronaviruses were detected in 32 samples from five different bat species [...] Read more.
While bats are increasingly recognized as a source of coronavirus epidemics, the diversity and emergence potential of bat coronaviruses remains to be fully understood. Among 1779 bat samples collected in China, diverse coronaviruses were detected in 32 samples from five different bat species by RT-PCR. Two novel alphacoronaviruses, Rhinolophus sinicus bat coronavirus HKU32 (Rs-BatCoV HKU32) and Tylonycteris robustula bat coronavirus HKU33 (Tr-BatCoV HKU33), were discovered from Chinese horseshoe bats in Hong Kong and greater bamboo bats in Guizhou Province, respectively. Genome analyses showed that Rs-BatCoV HKU32 is closely related to BatCoV HKU10 and related viruses from diverse bat families, whereas Tr-BatCoV HKU33 is closely related to BtNv-AlphaCoV and similar viruses exclusively from bats of Vespertilionidae family. The close relatedness of Rs-BatCoV HKU32 to BatCoV HKU10 which was also detected in Pomona roundleaf bats from the same country park suggests that these viruses may have the tendency of infecting genetically distant bat populations of close geographical proximity with subsequent genetic divergence. Moreover, the presence of SARSr-CoV ORF7a-like protein in Rs-BatCoV HKU32 suggests a common evolutionary origin of this accessory protein with SARS-CoV, also from Chinese horseshoe bats, an apparent reservoir for coronavirus epidemics. The emergence potential of Rs-BatCoV HKU32 should be explored. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viruses and Bats 2019)
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Open AccessArticle
Characterization of a New Member of Alphacoronavirus with Unique Genomic Features in Rhinolophus Bats
Viruses 2019, 11(4), 379; https://doi.org/10.3390/v11040379
Received: 13 March 2019 / Revised: 14 April 2019 / Accepted: 22 April 2019 / Published: 24 April 2019
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Abstract
Bats have been identified as a natural reservoir of a variety of coronaviruses (CoVs). Several of them have caused diseases in humans and domestic animals by interspecies transmission. Considering the diversity of bat coronaviruses, bat species and populations, we expect to discover more [...] Read more.
Bats have been identified as a natural reservoir of a variety of coronaviruses (CoVs). Several of them have caused diseases in humans and domestic animals by interspecies transmission. Considering the diversity of bat coronaviruses, bat species and populations, we expect to discover more bat CoVs through virus surveillance. In this study, we described a new member of alphaCoV (BtCoV/Rh/YN2012) in bats with unique genome features. Unique accessory genes, ORF4a and ORF4b were found between the spike gene and the envelope gene, while ORF8 gene was found downstream of the nucleocapsid gene. All the putative genes were further confirmed by reverse-transcription analyses. One unique gene at the 3’ end of the BtCoV/Rh/YN2012 genome, ORF9, exhibits ~30% amino acid identity to ORF7a of the SARS-related coronavirus. Functional analysis showed ORF4a protein can activate IFN-β production, whereas ORF3a can regulate NF-κB production. We also screened the spike-mediated virus entry using the spike-pseudotyped retroviruses system, although failed to find any fully permissive cells. Our results expand the knowledge on the genetic diversity of bat coronaviruses. Continuous screening of bat viruses will help us further understand the important role played by bats in coronavirus evolution and transmission. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viruses and Bats 2019)
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Open AccessArticle
Differential Innate Immune Responses Elicited by Nipah Virus and Cedar Virus Correlate with Disparate In Vivo Pathogenesis in Hamsters
Viruses 2019, 11(3), 291; https://doi.org/10.3390/v11030291
Received: 25 February 2019 / Revised: 15 March 2019 / Accepted: 20 March 2019 / Published: 22 March 2019
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Abstract
Syrian hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus) are a pathogenesis model for the Nipah virus (NiV), and we sought to determine if they are also susceptible to the Cedar virus (CedPV). Following intranasal inoculation with CedPV, virus replication occurred in the lungs and spleens [...] Read more.
Syrian hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus) are a pathogenesis model for the Nipah virus (NiV), and we sought to determine if they are also susceptible to the Cedar virus (CedPV). Following intranasal inoculation with CedPV, virus replication occurred in the lungs and spleens of infected hamsters, a neutralizing antibody was produced in some hamsters within 8 days post-challenge, and no conspicuous signs of disease occurred. CedPV replicated to a similar magnitude as NiV-Bangladesh in type I IFN-deficient BHK-21 Syrian hamster fibroblasts but replicated 4 logs lower in type I IFN-competent primary Syrian hamster and human pulmonary endothelial cells, a principal target of henipaviruses. The coinfection of these cells with CedPV and NiV failed to rescue CedPV titers and did not diminish NiV titers, suggesting the replication machinery is virus-specific. Type I IFN response transcripts Ifna7, Ddx58, Stat1, Stat2, Ccl5, Cxcl10, Isg20, Irf7, and Iigp1 were all significantly elevated in CedPV-infected hamster endothelial cells, whereas Ifna7 and Iigp1 expression were significantly repressed during NiV infection. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that CedPV’s inability to counter the host type I IFN response may, in part, contribute to its lack of pathogenicity. Because NiV causes a fatal disease in Syrian hamsters with similarities to human disease, this model will provide valuable information about the pathogenic mechanisms of henipaviruses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viruses and Bats 2019)
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Open AccessArticle
Enhanced Autophagy Contributes to Reduced Viral Infection in Black Flying Fox Cells
Viruses 2019, 11(3), 260; https://doi.org/10.3390/v11030260
Received: 1 February 2019 / Revised: 1 March 2019 / Accepted: 8 March 2019 / Published: 14 March 2019
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Abstract
Bats are increasingly implicated as hosts of highly pathogenic viruses. The underlying virus–host interactions and cellular mechanisms that promote co-existence remain ill-defined, but physiological traits such as flight and longevity are proposed to drive these adaptations. Autophagy is a cellular homeostatic process that [...] Read more.
Bats are increasingly implicated as hosts of highly pathogenic viruses. The underlying virus–host interactions and cellular mechanisms that promote co-existence remain ill-defined, but physiological traits such as flight and longevity are proposed to drive these adaptations. Autophagy is a cellular homeostatic process that regulates ageing, metabolism, and intrinsic immune defense. We quantified basal and stimulated autophagic responses in black flying fox cells, and demonstrated that although black flying fox cells are susceptible to Australian bat lyssavirus (ABLV) infection, viral replication is dampened in these bat cells. Black flying fox cells tolerated prolonged ABLV infection with less cell death relative to comparable human cells, suggesting post-entry mechanisms interference with virus replication. An elevated basal autophagic level was observed and autophagy was induced in response to high virus doses. Pharmacological stimulation of the autophagy pathway reduced virus replication, indicating autophagy acts as an anti-viral mechanism. Enhancement of basal and virus-induced autophagy in bat cells connects related reports that long-lived species possess homeostatic processes that dampen oxidative stress and macromolecule damage. Exemplifying the potential that evolved cellular homeostatic adaptations like autophagy may secondarily act as anti-viral mechanisms, enabling bats to serve as natural hosts to an assortment of pathogenic viruses. Furthermore, our data suggest autophagy-inducing drugs may provide a novel therapeutic strategy for combating lyssavirus infection. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viruses and Bats 2019)
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Open AccessArticle
Diversity and Evolution of Viral Pathogen Community in Cave Nectar Bats (Eonycteris spelaea)
Viruses 2019, 11(3), 250; https://doi.org/10.3390/v11030250
Received: 30 January 2019 / Revised: 7 March 2019 / Accepted: 7 March 2019 / Published: 12 March 2019
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Abstract
Bats are unique mammals, exhibit distinctive life history traits and have unique immunological approaches to suppression of viral diseases upon infection. High-throughput next-generation sequencing has been used in characterizing the virome of different bat species. The cave nectar bat, Eonycteris spelaea, has [...] Read more.
Bats are unique mammals, exhibit distinctive life history traits and have unique immunological approaches to suppression of viral diseases upon infection. High-throughput next-generation sequencing has been used in characterizing the virome of different bat species. The cave nectar bat, Eonycteris spelaea, has a broad geographical range across Southeast Asia, India and southern China, however, little is known about their involvement in virus transmission. Here we investigate the diversity and abundance of viral communities from a colony of Eonycteris spelaea residing in Singapore. Our results detected 47 and 22 different virus families from bat fecal and urine samples, respectively. Among these, we identify a large number of virus families including Adenoviridae, Flaviviridae, Reoviridae, Papillomaviridae, Paramyxoviridae, Parvoviridae, Picornaviridae, and Polyomaviridae. In most cases, viral sequences from Eonycteris spelaea are genetically related to a group of bat viruses from other bat genera (e.g., Eidolon, Miniopterus, Rhinolophus and Rousettus). The results of this study improve our knowledge of the host range, spread and evolution of several important viral pathogens. More significantly, our findings provide a baseline to study the temporal patterns of virus shedding and how they correlate with bat phenological trends. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viruses and Bats 2019)
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Open AccessArticle
Molecular Phylogeny of Mobatviruses (Hantaviridae) in Myanmar and Vietnam
Viruses 2019, 11(3), 228; https://doi.org/10.3390/v11030228
Received: 8 February 2019 / Revised: 28 February 2019 / Accepted: 1 March 2019 / Published: 7 March 2019
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Abstract
The discovery of highly divergent lineages of hantaviruses (family Hantaviridae) in shrews, moles, and bats of multiple species raises the possibility that non-rodent hosts may have played a significant role in their evolutionary history. To further investigate this prospect, total RNA was [...] Read more.
The discovery of highly divergent lineages of hantaviruses (family Hantaviridae) in shrews, moles, and bats of multiple species raises the possibility that non-rodent hosts may have played a significant role in their evolutionary history. To further investigate this prospect, total RNA was extracted from RNAlater®-preserved lung tissues of 277 bats (representing five families, 14 genera and 40 species), captured in Myanmar and Vietnam during 2013–2016. Hantavirus RNA was detected in two of 15 black-bearded tomb bats (Taphozous melanopogon) and two of 26 Pomona roundleaf bats (Hipposideros pomona) in Myanmar, and in three of six ashy leaf-nosed bats (Hipposideros cineraceus) in Vietnam. Pair-wise alignment and comparison of coding regions of the S, M, and L segments of hantaviruses from Taphozous and Hipposideros bats revealed high nucleotide and amino acid sequence similarities to prototype Láibīn virus (LAIV) and Xuân Sơn virus (XSV), respectively. Phylogenetic analyses, generated by maximum-likelihood and Bayesian methods, showed a geographic clustering of LAIV strains from China and Myanmar, but not of XSV strains from China and Vietnam. These findings confirm that the black-bearded tomb bat is the natural reservoir of LAIV, and that more than one species of Hipposideros bats can host XSV. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viruses and Bats 2019)
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Open AccessArticle
Discovery and Characterization of Bukakata orbivirus (Reoviridae:Orbivirus), a Novel Virus from a Ugandan Bat
Viruses 2019, 11(3), 209; https://doi.org/10.3390/v11030209
Received: 14 February 2019 / Revised: 26 February 2019 / Accepted: 26 February 2019 / Published: 2 March 2019
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Abstract
While serological and virological evidence documents the exposure of bats to medically-important arboviruses, their role as reservoirs or amplifying hosts is less well-characterized. We describe a novel orbivirus (Reoviridae:Orbivirus) isolated from an Egyptian fruit bat (Rousettus aegyptiacus leachii) trapped [...] Read more.
While serological and virological evidence documents the exposure of bats to medically-important arboviruses, their role as reservoirs or amplifying hosts is less well-characterized. We describe a novel orbivirus (Reoviridae:Orbivirus) isolated from an Egyptian fruit bat (Rousettus aegyptiacus leachii) trapped in 2013 in Uganda and named Bukakata orbivirus. This is the fifth orbivirus isolated from a bat, however genetic information had previously only been available for one bat-associated orbivirus. We performed whole-genome sequencing on Bukakata orbivirus and three other bat-associated orbiviruses (Fomede, Ife, and Japanaut) to assess their phylogenetic relationship within the genus Orbivirus and develop hypotheses regarding potential arthropod vectors. Replication kinetics were assessed for Bukakata orbivirus in three different vertebrate cell lines. Lastly, qRT-PCR and nested PCR were used to determine the prevalence of Bukakata orbivirus RNA in archived samples from three populations of Egyptian fruit bats and one population of cave-associated soft ticks in Uganda. Complete coding sequences were obtained for all ten segments of Fomede, Ife, and Japanaut orbiviruses and for nine of the ten segments for Bukakata orbivirus. Phylogenetic analysis placed Bukakata and Fomede in the tick-borne orbivirus clade and Ife and Japanaut within the Culicoides/phlebotomine sandfly orbivirus clade. Further, Bukakata and Fomede appear to be serotypes of the Chobar Gorge virus species. Bukakata orbivirus replicated to high titers (106–107 PFU/mL) in Vero, BHK-21 [C-13], and R06E (Egyptian fruit bat) cells. Preliminary screening of archived bat and tick samples do not support Bukakata orbivirus presence in these collections, however additional testing is warranted given the phylogenetic associations observed. This study provided complete coding sequence for several bat-associated orbiviruses and in vitro characterization of a bat-associated orbivirus. Our results indicate that bats may play an important role in the epidemiology of viruses in the genus Orbivirus and further investigation is warranted into vector-host associations and ongoing surveillance efforts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viruses and Bats 2019)
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Open AccessArticle
Interferon Regulatory Factor 3-Mediated Signaling Limits Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) Coronavirus Propagation in Cells from an Insectivorous Bat
Viruses 2019, 11(2), 152; https://doi.org/10.3390/v11020152
Received: 10 December 2018 / Revised: 8 February 2019 / Accepted: 11 February 2019 / Published: 13 February 2019
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Abstract
Insectivorous bats are speculated to be ancestral hosts of Middle-East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus (CoV). MERS-CoV causes disease in humans with thirty-five percent fatality, and has evolved proteins that counteract human antiviral responses. Since bats experimentally infected with MERS-CoV do not develop signs [...] Read more.
Insectivorous bats are speculated to be ancestral hosts of Middle-East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus (CoV). MERS-CoV causes disease in humans with thirty-five percent fatality, and has evolved proteins that counteract human antiviral responses. Since bats experimentally infected with MERS-CoV do not develop signs of disease, we tested the hypothesis that MERS-CoV would replicate less efficiently in bat cells than in human cells because of its inability to subvert antiviral responses in bat cells. We infected human and bat (Eptesicus fuscus) cells with MERS-CoV and observed that the virus grew to higher titers in human cells. MERS-CoV also effectively suppressed the antiviral interferon beta (IFNβ) response in human cells, unlike in bat cells. To determine if IRF3, a critical mediator of the interferon response, also regulated the response in bats, we examined the response of IRF3 to poly(I:C), a synthetic analogue of viral double-stranded RNA. We observed that bat IRF3 responded to poly(I:C) by nuclear translocation and post-translational modifications, hallmarks of IRF3 activation. Suppression of IRF3 by small-interfering RNA (siRNA) demonstrated that IRF3 was critical for poly(I:C) and MERS-CoV induced induction of IFNβ in bat cells. Our study demonstrates that innate antiviral signaling in E. fuscus bat cells is resistant to MERS-CoV-mediated subversion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viruses and Bats 2019)
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Open AccessArticle
Co-Circulation and Excretion Dynamics of Diverse Rubula- and Related Viruses in Egyptian Rousette Bats from South Africa
Viruses 2019, 11(1), 37; https://doi.org/10.3390/v11010037
Received: 23 October 2018 / Revised: 30 December 2018 / Accepted: 2 January 2019 / Published: 8 January 2019
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Abstract
The Egyptian rousette bat (Rousettus aegyptiacus) has previously been implicated as the natural host of a zoonotic rubulavirus; however, its association with rubulaviruses has been studied to a limited extent. Urine, spleen, and other organs collected from the R. aegyptiacus population [...] Read more.
The Egyptian rousette bat (Rousettus aegyptiacus) has previously been implicated as the natural host of a zoonotic rubulavirus; however, its association with rubulaviruses has been studied to a limited extent. Urine, spleen, and other organs collected from the R. aegyptiacus population within South Africa were tested with a hemi-nested RT-PCR assay targeting a partial polymerase gene region of viruses from the Avula- and Rubulavirus genera. Urine was collected over a 14-month period to study the temporal dynamics of viral excretion. Diverse rubulaviruses, including viruses related to human mumps and parainfluenza virus 2, were detected. Active excretion was identified during two peak periods coinciding with the host reproductive cycle. Analysis of additional organs indicated co-infection of individual bats with a number of different putative rubulaviruses, highlighting the limitations of using a single sample type when determining viral presence and diversity. Our findings suggest that R. aegyptiacus can harbor a range of Rubula- and related viruses, some of which are related to known human pathogens. The observed peaks in viral excretion represents potential periods of a higher risk of virus transmission and zoonotic disease spill-over. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viruses and Bats 2019)
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Open AccessArticle
Productive Propagation of Rift Valley Fever Phlebovirus Vaccine Strain MP-12 in Rousettus aegyptiacus Fruit Bats
Viruses 2018, 10(12), 681; https://doi.org/10.3390/v10120681
Received: 1 November 2018 / Revised: 28 November 2018 / Accepted: 29 November 2018 / Published: 30 November 2018
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Abstract
Rift Valley fever phlebovirus (RVFV), the causative agent of an emerging zoonotic disease in Africa and Arabia, can infect a variety of species, predominantly ruminants, camelids, and humans. While clinical symptoms are mostly absent in adult ruminants and camelids, RVFV infection may lead [...] Read more.
Rift Valley fever phlebovirus (RVFV), the causative agent of an emerging zoonotic disease in Africa and Arabia, can infect a variety of species, predominantly ruminants, camelids, and humans. While clinical symptoms are mostly absent in adult ruminants and camelids, RVFV infection may lead to a serious, sometimes fatal disease in humans. Virus transmissions between individuals and between species mainly occur through mosquito bites, but direct or even indirect contact with infectious materials may also result in infection. Although the main reservoir of the virus is not yet identified, small mammals such as rodents and bats may act as amplifying hosts. We therefore inoculated Rousettus aegyptiacus fruit bats that are abundant in northern Africa with the vaccine strain MP-12, in order to elucidate the general competence of this species for virus propagation and transmission. We were able to detect the RVFV genome in the spleen of each of these animals, and re-isolated the virus from the spleen and liver of some animals. Moreover, we were able to identify the Gc RVFV surface antigen in mild subacute multifocal necrotizing hepatic lesions of one bat which was sacrificed 7 days post exposure. These findings demonstrate that Rousettus aegyptiacus fruit bats can propagate RVFV. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viruses and Bats 2019)
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Open AccessArticle
Alston Virus, a Novel Paramyxovirus Isolated from Bats Causes Upper Respiratory Tract Infection in Experimentally Challenged Ferrets
Viruses 2018, 10(12), 675; https://doi.org/10.3390/v10120675
Received: 18 October 2018 / Revised: 14 November 2018 / Accepted: 15 November 2018 / Published: 28 November 2018
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Abstract
Multiple viruses with zoonotic potential have been isolated from bats globally. Here we describe the isolation and characterization of a novel paramyxovirus, Alston virus (AlsPV), isolated from urine collected from an Australian pteropid bat colony in Alstonville, New South Wales. Characterization of AlsPV [...] Read more.
Multiple viruses with zoonotic potential have been isolated from bats globally. Here we describe the isolation and characterization of a novel paramyxovirus, Alston virus (AlsPV), isolated from urine collected from an Australian pteropid bat colony in Alstonville, New South Wales. Characterization of AlsPV by whole-genome sequencing and analyzing antigenic relatedness revealed it is a rubulavirus that is closely related to parainfluenza virus 5 (PIV5). Intranasal exposure of mice to AlsPV resulted in no clinical signs of disease, although viral RNA was detected in the olfactory bulbs of two mice at 21 days post exposure. Oronasal challenge of ferrets resulted in subclinical upper respiratory tract infection, viral shedding in respiratory secretions, and detection of viral antigen in the olfactory bulb of the brain. These results imply that AlsPV may be similar to PIV5 in its ability to infect multiple mammalian host species. This isolation of a novel paramyxovirus with the potential to transmit from bats to other mammalian species reinforces the importance of continued surveillance of bats as a source of emerging viruses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viruses and Bats 2019)
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Open AccessArticle
Transcriptomics Reveal Antiviral Gene Induction in the Egyptian Rousette Bat Is Antagonized In Vitro by Marburg Virus Infection
Viruses 2018, 10(11), 607; https://doi.org/10.3390/v10110607
Received: 5 October 2018 / Revised: 29 October 2018 / Accepted: 30 October 2018 / Published: 2 November 2018
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Abstract
The Egyptian rousette bat (ERB) is the only known Marburg virus (MARV) reservoir host. ERBs develop a productive MARV infection with low viremia and shedding but no overt disease, suggesting this virus is efficiently controlled by ERB antiviral responses. This dynamic would contrast [...] Read more.
The Egyptian rousette bat (ERB) is the only known Marburg virus (MARV) reservoir host. ERBs develop a productive MARV infection with low viremia and shedding but no overt disease, suggesting this virus is efficiently controlled by ERB antiviral responses. This dynamic would contrast with humans, where MARV-mediated interferon (IFN) antagonism early in infection is thought to contribute to the severe, often fatal disease. The newly-annotated ERB genome and transcriptome have now enabled us to use a custom-designed NanoString nCounter ERB CodeSet in conjunction with RNA-seq to investigate responses in a MARV-infected ERB cell line. Both transcriptomic platforms correlated well and showed that MARV inhibited the antiviral program in ERB cells, while an IFN antagonism-impaired MARV was less efficient at suppressing the response gene induction, phenotypes previously reported for primate cells. Interestingly, and despite the expansion of IFN loci in the ERB genome, neither MARV showed specific induction of almost any IFN gene. However, we detected an upregulation of putative, unannotated ERB antiviral paralogs, as well as an elevated basal expression in uninfected ERB cells of key antiviral genes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viruses and Bats 2019)
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Open AccessArticle
Evolution of Codon Usage Bias in Henipaviruses Is Governed by Natural Selection and Is Host-Specific
Viruses 2018, 10(11), 604; https://doi.org/10.3390/v10110604
Received: 27 September 2018 / Revised: 28 October 2018 / Accepted: 30 October 2018 / Published: 1 November 2018
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Abstract
Hendra virus (HeV) and Nipah virus (NiV) are among a group of emerging bat-borne paramyxoviruses that have crossed their species-barrier several times by infecting several hosts with a high fatality rate in human beings. Despite the fatal nature of their infection, [...] Read more.
Hendra virus (HeV) and Nipah virus (NiV) are among a group of emerging bat-borne paramyxoviruses that have crossed their species-barrier several times by infecting several hosts with a high fatality rate in human beings. Despite the fatal nature of their infection, a comprehensive study to explore their evolution and adaptation in different hosts is lacking. A study of codon usage patterns in henipaviruses may provide some fruitful insight into their evolutionary processes of synonymous codon usage and host-adapted evolution. Here, we performed a systematic evolutionary and codon usage bias analysis of henipaviruses. We found a low codon usage bias in the coding sequences of henipaviruses and that natural selection, mutation pressure, and nucleotide compositions shapes the codon usage patterns of henipaviruses, with natural selection being more important than the others. Also, henipaviruses showed the highest level of adaptation to bats of the genus Pteropus in the codon adaptation index (CAI), relative to the codon de-optimization index (RCDI), and similarity index (SiD) analyses. Furthermore, a comparison to recently identified henipa-like viruses indicated a high tRNA adaptation index of henipaviruses for human beings, mainly due to F, G and L proteins. Consequently, the study concedes the substantial emergence of henipaviruses in human beings, particularly when paired with frequent exposure to direct/indirect bat excretions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viruses and Bats 2019)
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Open AccessArticle
Detection and Characterization of Distinct Alphacoronaviruses in Five Different Bat Species in Denmark
Viruses 2018, 10(9), 486; https://doi.org/10.3390/v10090486
Received: 3 August 2018 / Revised: 3 September 2018 / Accepted: 10 September 2018 / Published: 11 September 2018
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Abstract
Bat populations harbour a multitude of viruses; some of these are pathogenic or potentially pathogenic in other animals or humans. Therefore, it is important to monitor the populations and characterize these viruses. In this study, the presence of coronaviruses (CoVs) in different species [...] Read more.
Bat populations harbour a multitude of viruses; some of these are pathogenic or potentially pathogenic in other animals or humans. Therefore, it is important to monitor the populations and characterize these viruses. In this study, the presence of coronaviruses (CoVs) in different species of Danish bats was investigated using active surveillance at different geographical locations in Denmark. Faecal samples were screened for the presence of CoVs using pan-CoV real-time RT-PCR assays. The amplicons, obtained from five different species of bats, were sequenced. Phylogenetic analysis revealed a species-specific clustering with the samples from Myotis daubentonii, showing a close resemblance to coronavirus sequences obtained from the same species of bat in Germany and the United Kingdom. Our results show, for the first time, that multiple, distinct alphacoronaviruses are present in the Danish bat populations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viruses and Bats 2019)
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Review

Jump to: Research, Other

Open AccessReview
Bat Research Networks and Viral Surveillance: Gaps and Opportunities in Western Asia
Viruses 2019, 11(3), 240; https://doi.org/10.3390/v11030240
Received: 18 February 2019 / Revised: 7 March 2019 / Accepted: 7 March 2019 / Published: 10 March 2019
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Abstract
Bat research networks and viral surveillance are assumed to be at odds due to seemingly conflicting research priorities. Yet human threats that contribute to declines in bat populations globally also lead to increased transmission and spread of bat-associated viruses, which may pose a [...] Read more.
Bat research networks and viral surveillance are assumed to be at odds due to seemingly conflicting research priorities. Yet human threats that contribute to declines in bat populations globally also lead to increased transmission and spread of bat-associated viruses, which may pose a threat to global health and food security. In this review, we discuss the importance of and opportunities for multidisciplinary collaborations between bat research networks and infectious disease experts to tackle shared threats that jeopardize bat conservation as well as human and animal health. Moreover, we assess research effort on bats and bat-associated viruses globally, and demonstrate that Western Asia has limited published research and represents a gap for coordinated bat research. The lack of bat research in Western Asia severely limits our capacity to identify and mitigate region-specific threats to bat populations and detect interactions between bats and incidental hosts that promote virus spillover. We detail a regional initiative to establish the first bat research network in Western Asia (i.e., the Western Asia Bat Research Network, WAB-Net), with the aim of integrating ecological research on bats with virus surveillance to find “win-win” solutions that promote bat conservation and safeguard public and animal health across the region. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viruses and Bats 2019)
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Open AccessReview
Can Bats Serve as Reservoirs for Arboviruses?
Viruses 2019, 11(3), 215; https://doi.org/10.3390/v11030215
Received: 1 February 2019 / Revised: 28 February 2019 / Accepted: 1 March 2019 / Published: 3 March 2019
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Abstract
Bats are known to harbor and transmit many emerging and re-emerging viruses, many of which are extremely pathogenic in humans but do not cause overt pathology in their bat reservoir hosts: henipaviruses (Nipah and Hendra), filoviruses (Ebola and Marburg), and coronaviruses (SARS-CoV and [...] Read more.
Bats are known to harbor and transmit many emerging and re-emerging viruses, many of which are extremely pathogenic in humans but do not cause overt pathology in their bat reservoir hosts: henipaviruses (Nipah and Hendra), filoviruses (Ebola and Marburg), and coronaviruses (SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV). Direct transmission cycles are often implicated in these outbreaks, with virus shed in bat feces, urine, and saliva. An additional mode of virus transmission between bats and humans requiring further exploration is the spread of disease via arthropod vectors. Despite the shared ecological niches that bats fill with many hematophagous arthropods (e.g., mosquitoes, ticks, biting midges, etc.) known to play a role in the transmission of medically important arboviruses, knowledge surrounding the potential for bats to act as reservoirs for arboviruses is limited. To this end, a comprehensive literature review was undertaken examining the current understanding and potential for bats to act as reservoirs for viruses transmitted by blood-feeding arthropods. Serosurveillance and viral isolation from either free-ranging or captive bats are described in relation to four arboviral groups (Bunyavirales, Flaviviridae, Reoviridae, Togaviridae). Further, ecological associations between bats and hematophagous viral vectors are characterized (e.g., bat bloodmeals in mosquitoes, ingestion of mosquitoes by bats, etc). Lastly, knowledge gaps related to hematophagous ectoparasites (bat bugs and bed bugs (Cimicidae) and bat flies (Nycteribiidae and Streblidae)), in addition to future directions for characterization of bat-vector-virus relationships are described. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viruses and Bats 2019)
Open AccessReview
Bat Coronaviruses in China
Viruses 2019, 11(3), 210; https://doi.org/10.3390/v11030210
Received: 29 January 2019 / Revised: 26 February 2019 / Accepted: 26 February 2019 / Published: 2 March 2019
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Abstract
During the past two decades, three zoonotic coronaviruses have been identified as the cause of large-scale disease outbreaks–Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), and Swine Acute Diarrhea Syndrome (SADS). SARS and MERS emerged in 2003 and 2012, respectively, and [...] Read more.
During the past two decades, three zoonotic coronaviruses have been identified as the cause of large-scale disease outbreaks–Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), and Swine Acute Diarrhea Syndrome (SADS). SARS and MERS emerged in 2003 and 2012, respectively, and caused a worldwide pandemic that claimed thousands of human lives, while SADS struck the swine industry in 2017. They have common characteristics, such as they are all highly pathogenic to humans or livestock, their agents originated from bats, and two of them originated in China. Thus, it is highly likely that future SARS- or MERS-like coronavirus outbreaks will originate from bats, and there is an increased probability that this will occur in China. Therefore, the investigation of bat coronaviruses becomes an urgent issue for the detection of early warning signs, which in turn minimizes the impact of such future outbreaks in China. The purpose of the review is to summarize the current knowledge on viral diversity, reservoir hosts, and the geographical distributions of bat coronaviruses in China, and eventually we aim to predict virus hotspots and their cross-species transmission potential. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viruses and Bats 2019)
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Open AccessReview
Immune System Modulation and Viral Persistence in Bats: Understanding Viral Spillover
Viruses 2019, 11(2), 192; https://doi.org/10.3390/v11020192
Received: 23 January 2019 / Revised: 17 February 2019 / Accepted: 20 February 2019 / Published: 23 February 2019
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Abstract
Bats harbor a myriad of viruses and some of these viruses may have spilled over to other species including humans. Spillover events are rare and several factors must align to create the “perfect storm” that would ultimately lead to a spillover. One of [...] Read more.
Bats harbor a myriad of viruses and some of these viruses may have spilled over to other species including humans. Spillover events are rare and several factors must align to create the “perfect storm” that would ultimately lead to a spillover. One of these factors is the increased shedding of virus by bats. Several studies have indicated that bats have unique defense mechanisms that allow them to be persistently or latently infected with viruses. Factors leading to an increase in the viral load of persistently infected bats would facilitate shedding of virus. This article reviews the unique nature of bat immune defenses that regulate virus replication and the various molecular mechanisms that play a role in altering the balanced bat–virus relationship. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viruses and Bats 2019)
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Open AccessReview
Global Epidemiology of Bat Coronaviruses
Viruses 2019, 11(2), 174; https://doi.org/10.3390/v11020174
Received: 9 January 2019 / Revised: 12 February 2019 / Accepted: 18 February 2019 / Published: 20 February 2019
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Abstract
Bats are a unique group of mammals of the order Chiroptera. They are highly diversified and are the group of mammals with the second largest number of species. Such highly diversified cell types and receptors facilitate them to be potential hosts of [...] Read more.
Bats are a unique group of mammals of the order Chiroptera. They are highly diversified and are the group of mammals with the second largest number of species. Such highly diversified cell types and receptors facilitate them to be potential hosts of a large variety of viruses. Bats are the only group of mammals capable of sustained flight, which enables them to disseminate the viruses they harbor and enhance the chance of interspecies transmission. This article aims at reviewing the various aspects of the global epidemiology of bat coronaviruses (CoVs). Before the SARS epidemic, bats were not known to be hosts for CoVs. In the last 15 years, bats have been found to be hosts of >30 CoVs with complete genomes sequenced, and many more if those without genome sequences are included. Among the four CoV genera, only alphaCoVs and betaCoVs have been found in bats. As a whole, both alphaCoVs and betaCoVs have been detected from bats in Asia, Europe, Africa, North and South America and Australasia; but alphaCoVs seem to be more widespread than betaCoVs, and their detection rate is also higher. For betaCoVs, only those from subgenera Sarbecovirus, Merbecovirus, Nobecovirus and Hibecovirus have been detected in bats. Most notably, horseshoe bats are the reservoir of SARS-CoV, and several betaCoVs from subgenus Merbecovirus are closely related to MERS-CoV. In addition to the interactions among various bat species themselves, bat–animal and bat–human interactions, such as the presence of live bats in wildlife wet markets and restaurants in Southern China, are important for interspecies transmission of CoVs and may lead to devastating global outbreaks. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viruses and Bats 2019)
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Open AccessReview
Bats and Coronaviruses
Viruses 2019, 11(1), 41; https://doi.org/10.3390/v11010041
Received: 20 December 2018 / Revised: 5 January 2019 / Accepted: 7 January 2019 / Published: 9 January 2019
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (222 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Bats are speculated to be reservoirs of several emerging viruses including coronaviruses (CoVs) that cause serious disease in humans and agricultural animals. These include CoVs that cause severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) and severe [...] Read more.
Bats are speculated to be reservoirs of several emerging viruses including coronaviruses (CoVs) that cause serious disease in humans and agricultural animals. These include CoVs that cause severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) and severe acute diarrhea syndrome (SADS). Bats that are naturally infected or experimentally infected do not demonstrate clinical signs of disease. These observations have allowed researchers to speculate that bats are the likely reservoirs or ancestral hosts for several CoVs. In this review, we follow the CoV outbreaks that are speculated to have originated in bats. We review studies that have allowed researchers to identify unique adaptation in bats that may allow them to harbor CoVs without severe disease. We speculate about future studies that are critical to identify how bats can harbor multiple strains of CoVs and factors that enable these viruses to “jump” from bats to other mammals. We hope that this review will enable readers to identify gaps in knowledge that currently exist and initiate a dialogue amongst bat researchers to share resources to overcome present limitations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viruses and Bats 2019)

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Open AccessBrief Report
Discovery and Characterization of Novel Bat Coronavirus Lineages from Kazakhstan
Viruses 2019, 11(4), 356; https://doi.org/10.3390/v11040356
Received: 31 January 2019 / Revised: 20 March 2019 / Accepted: 9 April 2019 / Published: 17 April 2019
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Abstract
Coronaviruses are positive-stranded RNA viruses that infect a variety of hosts, resulting in a range of symptoms from gastrointestinal illness to respiratory distress. Bats are reservoirs for a high diversity of coronaviruses, and focused surveillance detected several strains genetically similar to MERS-coronavirus, SARS-coronavirus, [...] Read more.
Coronaviruses are positive-stranded RNA viruses that infect a variety of hosts, resulting in a range of symptoms from gastrointestinal illness to respiratory distress. Bats are reservoirs for a high diversity of coronaviruses, and focused surveillance detected several strains genetically similar to MERS-coronavirus, SARS-coronavirus, and the human coronaviruses 229E and NL63. The bat fauna of central Asia, which link China to eastern Europe, are relatively less studied than other regions of the world. Kazakhstan is the world’s ninth largest country; however, little is understood about the prevalence and diversity of bat-borne viruses. In this study, bat guano was collected from bat caves in three different sites of southern Kazakhstan that tested positive for coronaviruses. Our phylogenetic reconstruction indicates these are novel bat coronaviruses that belong to the genus Alphacoronavirus. In addition, two distinct lineages of Kazakhstan bat coronaviruses were detected. Both lineages are closely related to bat coronaviruses from China, France, Spain, and South Africa, suggesting that co-circulation of coronaviruses is common in multiple bat species with overlapping geographical distributions. Our study highlights the need for collaborative efforts in understudied countries to increase integrated surveillance capabilities toward better monitoring and detection of infectious diseases. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viruses and Bats 2019)
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