US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — Scientists at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago have uncovered a deep evolutionary relationship between viruses and bats. Infectious agents and bats have evolved together over millions of years.
An article by researchers is published in the journal Scientific Reports.
Specialists took blood samples from more than a thousand bats belonging to 36 species of bats and living on the islands of the western Indian Ocean and the coastal part of Mozambique. Eight percent of the animals were found to have coronaviruses.
Scientists isolated the genetic material of the infectious agents, sequenced the genomes (established the nucleotide sequence) and compared them with the genomes of the coronaviruses of other animals, including dolphins, alpacas and humans. This made it possible to build a family tree of viruses.
Biologists concluded that coronaviruses and bats closely coexisted at the level of the genus and families. For example, coronaviruses of fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family from different continents and islands are genetically different from viruses of other bat groups found in the same geographical areas.
Only in rare cases, bats of different families, genera and species that live in the same caves can have the same strain of coronavirus.
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