Population genetic structure of serotine bats (Eptesicus serotinus) across Europe and implications for the potential spread of bat rabies (European bat lyssavirus EBLV-1)

Heredity (Edinb). 2015 Jul;115(1):83-92. doi: 10.1038/hdy.2015.20. Epub 2015 Apr 1.


Understanding of the movements of species at multiple scales is essential to appreciate patterns of population connectivity and in some cases, the potential for pathogen transmission. The serotine bat (Eptesicus serotinus) is a common and widely distributed species in Europe where it frequently harbours European bat lyssavirus type 1 (EBLV-1), a virus causing rabies and transmissible to humans. In the United Kingdom, it is rare, with a distribution restricted to south of the country and so far the virus has never been found there. We investigated the genetic structure and gene flow of E. serotinus across the England and continental Europe. Greater genetic structuring was found in England compared with continental Europe. Nuclear data suggest a single population on the continent, although further work with more intensive sampling is required to confirm this, while mitochondrial sequences indicate an east-west substructure. In contrast, three distinct populations were found in England using microsatellite markers, and mitochondrial diversity was very low. Evidence of nuclear admixture indicated strong male-mediated gene flow among populations. Differences in connectivity could contribute to the high viral prevalence on the continent in contrast with the United Kingdom. Although the English Channel was previously thought to restrict gene flow, our data indicate relatively frequent movement from the continent to England highlighting the potential for movement of EBLV-1 into the United Kingdom.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Chiroptera / genetics*
  • Chiroptera / virology
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Europe
  • Gene Flow*
  • Genetic Markers
  • Genetics, Population*
  • Genotype
  • Lyssavirus
  • Male
  • Microsatellite Repeats
  • Models, Genetic
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Phylogeny
  • Rabies / transmission*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • United Kingdom


  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • Genetic Markers

Associated data

  • GENBANK/KP780844
  • GENBANK/KP780845
  • GENBANK/KP780846
  • GENBANK/KP780847
  • GENBANK/KP780848
  • GENBANK/KP780849
  • GENBANK/KP780850
  • GENBANK/KP780851
  • GENBANK/KP780852
  • GENBANK/KP780853
  • GENBANK/KP780854
  • GENBANK/KP780855
  • GENBANK/KP780856
  • GENBANK/KP780857
  • GENBANK/KP780858
  • GENBANK/KP780859
  • GENBANK/KP780860
  • GENBANK/KP780861
  • GENBANK/KP780862
  • GENBANK/KP780863
  • GENBANK/KP780864
  • GENBANK/KP780865
  • GENBANK/KP780866
  • GENBANK/KP780867
  • GENBANK/KP780868
  • GENBANK/KP780869