Journal article Open Access

Bats Are Natural Reservoirs of SARS-Like Coronaviruses

Li, Wendong; Shi, Zhengli; Yu, Meng; Ren, Wuze; Smith, Craig; Epstein, Jonathan H.; Wang, Hanzhong; Crameri, Gary; Hu, Zhihong; Zhang, Huajun; Zhang, Jianhong; McEachern, Jennifer; Field, Hume; Daszak, Peter; Eaton, Bryan T.; Zhang, Shuyi; Wang, Lin-Fa

Data curator(s)
Plazi

Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) emerged in 2002 to 2003 in southern China. The origin of its etiological agent, the SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV), remains elusive. Here we report that species of bats are a natural host of coronaviruses closely related to those responsible for the SARS outbreak. These viruses, termed SARS-like coronaviruses (SL-CoVs), display greater genetic variation than SARS-CoV isolated from humans or from civets. The human and civet isolates of SARS-CoV nestle phylogenetically within the spectrum of SL-CoVs, indicating that the virus responsible for the SARS outbreak was a member of this coronavirus group. Several species of bat living in China are natural hosts of coronaviruses closely related to those responsible for the SARS outbreak. Several species of bat living in China are natural hosts of coronaviruses closely related to those responsible for the SARS outbreak.

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