South-East Asia is a hot spot for emerging zoonotic diseases, and bats have been recognized as hosts for a large number of zoonotic viruses such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), responsible for acute respiratory syndrome outbreaks. Thus, it is important to expand our knowledge of the presence of viruses in bats which could represent a risk to humans. Coronaviruses (CoVs) have been reported in bat species from Thailand, China, Indonesia, Taiwan and the Philippines. However no such work was conducted in Cambodia or Lao PDR. Between 2010 and 2013, 1965 bats were therefore sampled at interfaces with human populations in these two countries. They were tested for the presence of coronavirus by consensus reverse transcription-PCR assay. A total of 93 samples (4.7%) from 17 genera of bats tested positive. Sequence analysis revealed the presence of potentially 37 and 56 coronavirus belonging to alpha-coronavirus (αCoV) and beta-CoV (βCoV), respectively. The βCoVs group is known to include some coronaviruses highly pathogenic to human, such as SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV. All coronavirus sequences generated from frugivorous bats (family Pteropodidae) (n=55) clustered with other bat βCoVs of lineage D, whereas one coronavirus from Pipistrellus coromandra fell in the lineage C of βCoVs which also includes the MERS-CoV. αCoVs were all detected in various genera of insectivorous bats and clustered with diverse bat αCoV sequences previously published. A closely related strain of PEDV, responsible for severe diarrhea in pigs (PEDV-CoV), was detected in 2 Myotis bats. We highlighted the presence and the high diversity of coronaviruses circulating in bats from Cambodia and Lao PDR. Three new bat genera and species were newly identified as host of coronaviruses, namely Macroglossus sp., Megaerops niphanae and Myotis horsfieldii.
Keywords: Bats; Cambodia; Coronaviruses; Genetic diversity; Lao PDR.
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