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Tue Nov 24, 2020, 07:55 PM

How viruses use bats' bodies as an evolutionary training ground

(Salon) Imagine that you are a Shamel's horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus shameli). With a complex nose shaped like a horseshoe, you use echolocation to find insects that you can eat, since as an invertivore your diet depends on consuming invertebrates. You live in southeast Asian countries like Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Not that you have a concept of the nation-state, as a bat; rather, your range is defined by tropical forests, and that is how you think of geography. Indeed, you do not think far beyond these tropical forests; how could anything outside of their range concern you?

It certainly would surprise you to learn that a mostly hairless primate species are suddenly tremendously interested in you, stricken, as millions of them are, with a deadly virus that may have become more lethal by and through your being. Some of these upright-walking primates even think that your anatomy contains clues as to how this disease moved through their population.

Indeed, because of their unique immune system, there has been a sudden flurry of interest in Shamel's horseshoe bats, a species few humans know about. As reported in Nature, researchers told the scholarly journal that two Shamel's horseshoe bats, which had been stored in a freezer in Cambodia since 2010, contained in their bodies a coronavirus closely related to SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the disease COVID-19. If that coronavirus is found to share more than 97% of its genome with SARS-CoV-2, it could help explain how a pandemic that originated in bats was able to be passed along to humans, according to virologists at the Pasteur Institute in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Around the same time, researchers in Japan claimed that they found a virus called Rc-o319, which has also been found in bat droppings, inside a Japanese horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus cornutus). Because Rc-o319 only shares 81% of its genome with SARS-CoV-2, it will not be able to directly help scientists learn more about the pandemic's origins. Still, that discovery still confirms viruses closely related to SARS-CoV-2 are relatively common in horseshoe bats, including species outside of China.

The next question, then, is why are bats so prone to getting coronaviruses? ...........(more)


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Reply How viruses use bats' bodies as an evolutionary training ground (Original post)
marmar Nov 24 OP
LeftInTX Nov 29 #1

Response to marmar (Original post)

Sun Nov 29, 2020, 03:31 PM

1. Cave dwelling bats carry and survive rabies

It's like a hybrid environment for rabies here in South Texas.

It is entirely possible that a bat bite oould have caused the first cases of Covid in humans or close encounters with bats or their habitat such as exploring abandoned buildings etc.

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