Bats as Viral Reservoirs

Annu Rev Virol. 2016 Sep 29;3(1):77-99. doi: 10.1146/annurev-virology-110615-042203. Epub 2016 Aug 22.


Bats are hosts of a range of viruses, including ebolaviruses, and many important human viral infections, such as measles and mumps, may have their ancestry traced back to bats. Here, I review viruses of all viral families detected in global bat populations. The viral diversity in bats is substantial, and viruses with all known types of genomic structures and replication strategies have been discovered in bats. However, the discovery of viruses is not geographically even, with some apparently undersampled regions, such as South America. Furthermore, some bat families, including those with global or wide distributions such as Emballonuridae and Miniopteridae, are underrepresented on viral databases. Future studies, including those that address these sampling gaps along with those that develop our understanding of viral-host relationships, are highlighted.

Keywords: Chiroptera; cross-species transmission; host-pathogen interactions; virome; virus; zoonoses.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chiroptera / virology*
  • DNA Viruses / classification
  • DNA Viruses / genetics*
  • DNA Viruses / isolation & purification
  • Disease Reservoirs / virology*
  • Genome, Viral
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions*
  • Humans
  • RNA Viruses / classification
  • RNA Viruses / genetics*
  • RNA Viruses / isolation & purification
  • Virus Diseases / transmission*
  • Virus Diseases / virology
  • Zoonoses