Do gastrointestinal microbiomes play a role in bats' unique viral hosting capacity?

Trends Microbiol. 2022 Jul;30(7):632-642. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2021.12.009. Epub 2022 Jan 13.


Bats are reservoirs for zoonotic viruses, which they tolerate without experiencing disease. Research focused on deciphering mechanisms of virus tolerance in bats has rarely considered the influence of their gastrointestinal tract (GIT) microbiome. In mammals, GIT microbiomes influence infections through their effect on host physiology, immunity, nutrition, and behavior. Bat GIT microbiomes more closely resemble the Proteobacteria-dominated GIT microbiomes of birds than those of other mammals. As an adaptation to flight, bats have rapid GIT transit times which may reduce the stability of their microbiome, constrain nutrient uptake, and affect pathogen exposure and evolution of tolerance mechanisms. Experimental and longitudinal studies are needed to understand the function of bats' GIT microbiomes and their role in modulating viral infection dynamics.

Keywords: Chiroptera; bacteriome; bats; microbiome.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Birds
  • Chiroptera*
  • Disease Reservoirs
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Virus Diseases*
  • Viruses*