Interspecies transmission and emergence of novel viruses: lessons from bats and birds

Trends Microbiol. 2013 Oct;21(10):544-55. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2013.05.005. Epub 2013 Jun 14.


As exemplified by coronaviruses and influenza viruses, bats and birds are natural reservoirs for providing viral genes during evolution of new virus species and viruses for interspecies transmission. These warm-blooded vertebrates display high species biodiversity, roosting and migratory behavior, and a unique adaptive immune system, which are favorable characteristics for asymptomatic shedding, dissemination, and mixing of different viruses for the generation of novel mutant, recombinant, or reassortant RNA viruses. The increased intrusion of humans into wildlife habitats and overcrowding of different wildlife species in wet markets and farms have also facilitated the interspecies transmission between different animal species.

Keywords: RNA virus; coronavirus; emerging infectious disease; influenza; virus evolution.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Birds / virology
  • Chiroptera / virology
  • Coronavirus / growth & development
  • Coronavirus Infections / transmission*
  • Coronavirus Infections / virology
  • Disease Reservoirs / virology*
  • Disease Vectors
  • Humans
  • Influenza in Birds / transmission*
  • Influenza in Birds / virology
  • Influenza, Human / transmission*
  • Influenza, Human / virology
  • Orthomyxoviridae / growth & development
  • Zoonoses / transmission*
  • Zoonoses / virology