At Least Seven Distinct Rotavirus Genotype Constellations in Bats with Evidence of Reassortment and Zoonotic Transmissions

Ceren Simsek, Victor Max Corman, Hermann Ulrich Everling, Alexander N. Lukashev, Andrea Rasche, Gael Darren Maganga, Tabea Binger, Daan Jansen, Leen Beller, Ward Deboutte, Florian Gloza-Rausch, Antje Seebens-Hoyer, Stoian Yordanov, Augustina Sylverken, Samuel Oppong, Yaw Adu Sarkodie, Peter Vallo, Eric M. Leroy, Mathieu Bourgarel, Kwe Claude Yinda, Marc Van Ranst, Christian Drosten, Jan Felix Drexler, Jelle Matthijnssens

In humans, rotaviruses are responsible for 122,000 to 216,000 deaths in under-5-year-old infants on a yearly basis, mainly in developing countries. Bats host many viruses pathogenic to humans, and increasing evidence suggests that rotavirus A (RVA) also belongs to this list. In the study by Ceren Simsek et al 2,142 bat fecal samples collected from Europe, Central America, and Africa were studied. Eighteen were PCR-positive for RVA, and 11 of those were fully characterized using viral metagenomics. At least 7 distinct bat RVA genotype constellations (GCs) were identified, which included evidence of reassortments and 6 novel genotypes. This effort sheds light on the vast genetic diversity of rotaviruses and also hints at a bat origin for several atypical rotaviruses in humans and animals, implying that zoonoses of bat rotaviruses might occur more frequently than currently realized.

Published January 2021 in MBio

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Host switching pathogens, infectious outbreaks and zoonosis; a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network.

This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 721367.