Bat goblet cells as immuno-hotspots for infection of coronavirus
Professor of Conservation Biology
I’m interested in how biology and the environment shape biodiversity in time and space.
- Global Union of Bat Diversity Networks (GBatNet)
- Immunological adaptations in bats to moderate the effect of coronavirus infection
- Tissue Collection of Bats for-Omics Analyses and Primary Cell Culture
- Regrowing the brain; evolution and mechanisms of seasonal reversible size changes in a mammal
- The death and life of biodiversity; modeling extinction and resilience on islands
Comprising more than 1400 species, bats possess adaptations unique among mammals including powered flight, unexpected longevity given small body size, and extraordinary immunity. Some of the molecular mechanisms underlying these unique adaptations includes DNA repair, metabolism and immunity. However, analyses have been limited to a few divergent lineages, reducing the scope of inferences on gene family evolution across the Order Chiroptera. We conducted an exhaustive comparative genomic study of 37 bat species encompassing a large number of lineages, with a particular emphasis on multi-gene family evolution across immune system and metabolic genes. In agreement with previous analyses, we found lineage-specific expansions of the APOBEC3 and MHC-I gene families, and loss of the proinflammatory PYHIN gene family. We inferred more than 1,000 gene losses unique to bats, including genes involved in the regulation of inflammasome pathways such as epithelial defense receptors, the natural killer gene complex and the interferon-gamma induced pathway. Gene set enrichment analyses revealed genes lost in bats are involved in defense response against pathogen-associated molecular patterns and damage-associated molecular patterns. Gene family evolution and selection analyses indicate bats have evolved fundamental functional differences compared to other mammals in both innate and adaptive immune system, with the potential to enhance anti-viral immune response while dampening inflammatory signaling. In addition, metabolic genes have experienced repeated expansions related to convergent shifts to plant-based diets. Our analyses support the hypothesis that, in tandem with flight, ancestral bats had evolved a unique set of immune adaptations whose functional implications remain to be explored.
Diana Moreno Santillan, Tanya Lama, Yocelyn Gutiérrez Guerrero, Alexis Brown, Paul Donat, Huabin Zhao, Stephen Rossiter, Laurel R. Yohe, Joshua Potter, Emma C. Teeling*, Sonja Vernes, Kalina T.J. Davies, Eugene Myers, Graham Hughes, Zixia Huang, Federico G. Hoffmann, Angelique P. Corthals, David Ray, Liliana M. Dávalos
Diversity in olfactory receptor repertoires is associated with dietary specialization in a genus of frugivorous bat
Mammalian olfactory receptors (ORs) are a diverse family of genes encoding proteins that directly interact with environmental chemical cues. ORs evolve via gene duplication in a birth-death fashion, neofunctionalizing and pseudogenizing over time. Olfaction is a primary sense used for food detection in plant-visiting bats, but the relationship between dietary specialization and OR repertoires is unclear. Within neotropical Leaf-nosed bats (Phyllostomidae), many lineages are plant specialists, and some have a distinct OR repertoire compared to insectivorous species. Yet, whether specialization on particular plant genera is associated with the evolution of more specialized OR repertoires has never been tested. Using targeted sequence capture, we sequenced the OR repertoires of three sympatric species of short-tailed leaf-nosed bats (Carollia), which vary in their degree of specialization on the fruits of Piper plants. We characterized orthologous versus duplicated receptors among Carollia species, and identified orthologous receptors and associated paralogs to explore the diversity and redundancy of the receptor gene repertoire. The most dedicated Piper specialist, Carollia castanea, had lower OR diversity compared to the two more generalist species (sowelli, perspicillata), but we discovered a few unique sets of ORs within C. castanea with exceptional redundancy of similar gene duplicates. These unique receptors potentially enable C. castanea to detect Piper fruit odorants to an extent that the other species cannot. C. perspicillata, the species with the most generalist diet, had a larger diversity of functional receptors, suggesting the ability to detect a wider range of odorant molecules. The variation among ORs may be a factor in the coexistence of these sympatric species, facilitating the exploitation of different plant resources. Our study sheds light on how gene duplication plays a role in dietary adaptations and underlies patterns of ecological interactions between bats and plants.