Insectivorous bats carry host specific astroviruses and coronaviruses across different regions in Germany
Recently several infectious agents with a zoonotic potential have been detected in different bat species. However, there is still a lack of knowledge on the transmission dynamics within and between bat species, as well as from bats to other mammals. To better understand these processes, it is important to compare the phylogenetic relationships between different agents to that of their respective hosts. In this study, we analysed more than 950 urine, faeces and oral swab samples collected from 653 bats from mainly four species (Myotis nattereri, Myotis bechsteinii, Myotis daubentonii, and Plecotus auritus) for the presence of coronavirus, paramyxovirus and astrovirus related nucleic acids located in three different regions of Germany. Using hemi-nested reverse transcriptase (RT)-PCR amplification of fragments within the highly conserved regions of the respective RNA dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) genes, we detected astrovirus sequences at an overall detection rate of 25.8% of the analysed animals, with a maximum of 65% in local populations. The detection rates for coronaviruses and paramyxoviruses were distinctly lower, ranging between 1.4% and 3.1%. Interestingly, the sequence similarities in samples collected from the same bat species in different geographical areas were distinctly larger than the sequence similarities between samples from different species sampled at the same location. This indicates that host specificity may be more important than host ecology for the presence of certain viruses in bats.