Microbiology Twitter Journal Club #microtwjc – tonight, 8pm BST



Bats host major mammalian paramyxoviruses. (2012) Nature Communications 3, Article number: 796 doi:10.1038/ncomms1796
The large virus family Paramyxoviridae includes some of the most significant human and livestock viruses, such as measles-, distemper-, mumps-, parainfluenza-, Newcastle disease-, respiratory syncytial virus and metapneumoviruses. Here we identify an estimated 66 new paramyxoviruses in a worldwide sample of 119 bat and rodent species (9,278 individuals). Major discoveries include evidence of an origin of Hendra- and Nipah virus in Africa, identification of a bat virus conspecific with the human mumps virus, detection of close relatives of respiratory syncytial virus, mouse pneumonia- and canine distemper virus in bats, as well as direct evidence of Sendai virus in rodents. Phylogenetic reconstruction of host associations suggests a predominance of host switches from bats to other mammals and birds. Hypothesis tests in a maximum likelihood framework permit the phylogenetic placement of bats as tentative hosts at ancestral nodes to both the major Paramyxoviridae subfamilies (Paramyxovirinae and Pneumovirinae). Future attempts to predict the emergence of novel paramyxoviruses in humans and livestock will have to rely fundamentally on these data.

Why look for viruses? What about bacteria or parasites?
Why bats? What other kinds of species would you look at? Or are bats special?
Are their sample sizes enough to capture true diversity of bats/rodents?
Why did they specifically look for paramyxoviruses? Why not utilize deep sequencing approaches?
What does having a viral sequence tell us? Of most of these viruses they never actually found the virus, only sequences. What problems are associated with this?
Does their data really back up the title of the paper? To show that a species is the reservoir host, what kind of evidence do you need?
What’s the deal their phylogenetic methods?
What would you do next with this data? Should we kill all the bats?

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