transcriptomics

Dietary Diversification and Specialisation in New World Bats Facilitated by Early Molecular Evolution

Dietary adaptation is a major feature of phenotypic and ecological diversification, yet the genetic basis of dietary shifts is poorly understood. Among mammals, Neotropical leaf-nosed bats (family Phyllostomidae) show unmatched diversity in diet; …

Global Union of Bat Diversity Networks (GBatNet)

Data and internship opportunities available to new students. Bats play critical roles in ecosystems globally. However, key aspects of bat biology, from the causes and consequences of population declines to their ability to transmit viruses to people, remain poorly understood. This AccelNet project establishes the Global Union of Bat Diversity Networks (GBatNet) to fill key knowledge gaps and create an international structure to accelerate discoveries across disciplines and borders. The network of networks fosters new avenues for global research exchange through coordination of joint research, education, and outreach. GBatNet links 14 regional and global networks with a shared vision to address pressing questions in bat biology of direct relevance to ecosystem and human health.

Six reference-quality genomes reveal evolution of bat adaptations

Bats possess extraordinary adaptations, including flight, echolocation, extreme longevity and unique immunity. High-quality genomes are crucial for understanding the molecular basis and evolution of these traits. Here we incorporated long-read sequencing and state-of-the-art scaffolding protocols1 to generate, to our knowledge, the first reference-quality genomes of six bat species (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum, Rousettus aegyptiacus, Phyllostomus discolor, Myotis myotis, Pipistrellus kuhlii and Molossus molossus). We integrated gene projections from our ‘Tool to infer Orthologs from Genome Alignments’ (TOGA) software with de novo and homology gene predictions as well as short- and long-read transcriptomics to generate highly complete gene annotations. To resolve the phylogenetic position of bats within Laurasiatheria, we applied several phylogenetic methods to comprehensive sets of orthologous protein-coding and noncoding regions of the genome, and identified a basal origin for bats within Scrotifera. Our genome-wide screens revealed positive selection on hearing-related genes in the ancestral branch of bats, which is indicative of laryngeal echolocation being an ancestral trait in this clade. We found selection and loss of immunity-related genes (including pro-inflammatory NF-κB regulators) and expansions of anti-viral APOBEC3 genes, which highlights molecular mechanisms that may contribute to the exceptional immunity of bats. Genomic integrations of diverse viruses provide a genomic record of historical tolerance to viral infection in bats. Finally, we found and experimentally validated bat-specific variation in microRNAs, which may regulate bat-specific gene-expression programs. Our reference-quality bat genomes provide the resources required to uncover and validate the genomic basis of adaptations of bats, and stimulate new avenues of research that are directly relevant to human health and disease1.

Bat goblet cells as immuno-hotspots for infection of coronavirus

Data available to new students. Why are bats so likely to carry coronaviruses, yet seem little affected by them? Many studies have focused on their immune system, but there is much to learn about the cells viruses attack upon entry.

Immunological adaptations in bats to moderate the effect of coronavirus infection

Data available to new students. All aspects of society have been upended by COVID-19. While most research has understandably focused on clinical applications, how the ancestors of SARS-CoV2 survive and circulate in nature is vital to both prevent future epidemics and help health professionals develop therapeutic treatments.

Foraging shifts and visual preadaptation in ecologically diverse bats

Changes in behaviour may initiate shifts to new adaptive zones, with physical adap- tations for novel environments evolving later. While new mutations are commonly considered engines of adaptive change, sensory evolution enabling access to new …

Tissue Collection of Bats for-Omics Analyses and Primary Cell Culture

As high-throughput sequencing technologies advance, standardized methods for high quality tissue acquisition and preservation allow for the extension of these methods to non-model organisms. A series of protocols to optimize tissue collection from …

Evaluating the performance of targeted sequence capture, RNA-Seq, and degenerate-primer PCR cloning for sequencing the largest mammalian multigene family

Multigene families evolve from single‐copy ancestral genes via duplication, and typically encode proteins critical to key biological processes. Molecular analyses of these gene families require high‐confidence sequences, but the high sequence …

Expressed vomeronasal type-1 receptors (V1rs) in bats uncover conserved sequences underlying social chemical signaling

In mammals, social and reproductive behaviors are mediated by chemical cues encoded by hyperdiverse families of receptors expressed in the vomeronasal organ. Between species, the number of intact receptors can vary by orders of magnitude. However, …

Regrowing the brain; evolution and mechanisms of seasonal reversible size changes in a mammal

To answer the question of how the shrew shrinks and then regrows its brain, we will establish this unusual species as a new model, by studying the biological, molecular, biochemical and genetic processes behind this reversible size change.