Gammaretroviruses, novel viruses and pathogenic bacteria in Australian bats with neurological signs, pneumonia and skin lesions

Virology. 2023 Sep:586:43-55. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2023.07.011. Epub 2023 Jul 17.


More than 70 bat species are found in mainland Australia. While most studies of bat viromes focus on sampling seemingly healthy individuals, little is known about the viruses and bacteria associated with diseased bats. We performed traditional diagnostic techniques and metatranscriptomic sequencing on tissue samples from 43 Australian bats, comprising three flying fox (Pteropodidae) and two microbat species experiencing a range of disease syndromes, including mass mortality, neurological signs, pneumonia and skin lesions. Of note, we identified the recently discovered Hervey pteropid gammaretrovirus in a bat with lymphoid leukemia, with evidence of replication consistent with an exogenous virus. The possible association of Hervey pteropid gammaretrovirus with lymphoid leukemia clearly merits additional investigation. One novel picornavirus and at least three new astroviruses and bat pegiviruses were also identified in a variety of tissue types, as well as a number of likely bacterial pathogens or opportunistic infections, most notably Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Keywords: Astrovirus; Bats; Evolution; Lymphoid leukemia; Pseudomonas aeruginosa; Retrovirus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Chiroptera*
  • Gammaretrovirus*
  • Humans
  • Phylogeny
  • Pneumonia*
  • RNA Viruses*