Neotropical Bats from Costa Rica harbour Diverse Coronaviruses

A Moreira-Soto, L Taylor-Castillo, N Vargas-Vargas, B Rodríguez-Herrera, C Jiménez, E Corrales-Aguilar
Zoonoses and Public Health 2015, 62 (7): 501-5
Bats are hosts of diverse coronaviruses (CoVs) known to potentially cross the host-species barrier. For analysing coronavirus diversity in a bat species-rich country, a total of 421 anal swabs/faecal samples from Costa Rican bats were screened for CoV RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) gene sequences by a pancoronavirus PCR. Six families, 24 genera and 41 species of bats were analysed. The detection rate for CoV was 1%. Individuals (n = 4) from four different species of frugivorous (Artibeus jamaicensis, Carollia perspicillata and Carollia castanea) and nectivorous (Glossophaga soricina) bats were positive for coronavirus-derived nucleic acids. Analysis of 440 nt. RdRp sequences allocated all Costa Rican bat CoVs to the α-CoV group. Several CoVs sequences clustered near previously described CoVs from the same species of bat, but were phylogenetically distant from the human CoV sequences identified to date, suggesting no recent spillover events. The Glossophaga soricina CoV sequence is sufficiently dissimilar (26% homology to the closest known bat CoVs) to represent a unique coronavirus not clustering near other CoVs found in the same bat species so far, implying an even higher CoV diversity than previously suspected.

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