Longitudinal Surveillance of Betacoronaviruses in Fruit Bats in Yunnan Province, China During 2009–2016
Previous studies indicated that fruit bats carry two betacoronaviruses, BatCoV HKU9 and BatCoV GCCDC1. To investigate the epidemiology and genetic diversity of these coronaviruses, we conducted a longitudinal surveillance in fruit bats in Yunnan province, China during 2009–2016. A total of 59 (10.63%) bat samples were positive for the two betacorona-viruses, 46 (8.29%) for HKU9 and 13 (2.34%) for GCCDC1, or closely related viruses. We identified a novel HKU9 strain, tentatively designated as BatCoV HKU9-2202, by sequencing the full-length genome. The BatCoV HKU9-2202 shared 83% nucleotide identity with other BatCoV HKU9 stains based on whole genome sequences. The most divergent region is in the spike protein, which only shares 68% amino acid identity with BatCoV HKU9. Quantitative PCR revealed that the intestine was the primary infection organ of BatCoV HKU9 and GCCDC1, but some HKU9 was also detected in the heart, kidney, and lung tissues of bats. This study highlights the importance of virus surveillance in natural reservoirs and emphasizes the need for preparedness against the potential spill-over of these viruses to local residents living near bat caves.
KeywordsBetacoronavirus Surveillance Genetic diversity
We thank Xing-Yi Ge, Shi-Yue Li, and Hui-Min Huang for assistance in bat sampling. This work was jointly supported by the China Natural Science Foundation (81290341 and 31621061 to ZLS), United States Agency for International Development Emerging Pandemic Threats PREDICT project (AID-OAA-A-14-00102), and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health (Award Number R01AI110964) to ZLS.
ZLS and XLY designed and coordinated this study. RDJ, BJH, DSL, YZZ, and GJZ collected samples. YL, BL, XLY performed most of the experiments. ZLS, XLY, YL, BH, and HZL analyzed the data. YL, XLY, and ZLS drafted the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Animal and Human Rights Statement
This study was approved by the Animal Ethics Committee of the Wuhan Institute of Virology. All institutional and national guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.
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