Ecology, evolution and classification of bat coronaviruses in the aftermath of SARS

Antiviral Research
Jan Felix DrexlerChristian Drosten

Abstract

In 2002/2003, a novel coronavirus (CoV) caused a pandemic, infecting more than 8000 people, of whom nearly 10% died. This virus, termed severe acute respiratory syndrome-CoV was linked to a zoonotic origin from rhinolophid bats in 2005. Since then, numerous studies have described novel bat CoVs, including close relatives of the newly emerging Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)-CoV. In this paper we discuss CoV genomic properties and compare different taxonomic approaches in light of the technical difficulties of obtaining full genomic sequences directly from bat specimens. We first present an overview of the available studies on bat CoVs, with details on their chiropteran hosts, then comparatively analyze the increase in bat CoV studies and novel genomic sequences obtained since the SARS pandemic. We then conduct a comprehensive phylogenetic analysis of the genera Alpha- and Betacoronavirus, to show that bats harbour more CoV diversity than other mammalian hosts and are widely represented in most, but not all parts of the tree of mammalian CoVs. We next discuss preliminary evidence for phylogenetic co-segregation of CoVs and bat hosts encompassing the Betacoronavirus clades b and d, with an emphasis on the sampling bias th...Continue Reading

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Methods Mentioned

BETA
PCR

Software Mentioned

BEAST
MrBayes
TreeAnnotator
FigTree

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