Molecular diversity and evolution of bat group C betacoronaviruses: origin of the novel human group C betacoronavirus (abridged secondary publication)
SKP Lau, PCY Woo, BJ Zheng
Department of Microbiology, The University of Hong Kong
1. MERS-CoV is closely related to both Pi-BatCoV HKU5 and Ty-BatCoV HKU4. Pi-BatCoV HKU5 may have a better ability to adapt to new host/environments along with its host living in diverse habitats.
2. A potentially novel lineage C betaCoV that shares genome similarities to MERS-CoV is identified in two bats in Guangdong province, supporting that Pipistrellus-related bats are important host of lineage C betaCoVs.
3. Two other novel betaCoVs—SARSr-Rf-BatCoV strains—were identified from greater horseshoe bats. Genome analysis showed that recombination has occurred around ORF8 between SARSr-Rf-BatCoVs and SARSr-Rs-BatCoVs, leading to the generation of civet SARSr-CoVs with ORF8 likely acquired from SARSr-Rf-BatCoVs.
4. Bats in China are important reservoir for diverse betaCoVs including lineage C viruses. This highlights the importance for conservation of these animals and their habitats. Although there is no evidence of direct transmission of CoVs from bats to humans, humans should avoid contact with wild bats.