Immunological features of bats: resistance and tolerance to emerging viruses

Elsevier, Trends in Immunology, Volume 45, March 2024
Demian W.L., Cormier O., Mossman K.

Bats are among the most diverse mammalian species, representing over 20% of mammalian diversity. The past two decades have witnessed a disproportionate spillover of viruses from bats to humans compared with other mammalian hosts, attributed to the viral richness within bats, their phylogenetic likeness to humans, and increased human contact with wildlife. Unique evolutionary adaptations in bat genomes, particularly in antiviral protection and immune tolerance genes, enable bats to serve as reservoirs for pandemic-inducing viruses. Here, we discuss current limitations and advances made in understanding the role of bats as drivers of pandemic zoonoses. We also discuss novel technologies that have revealed spatial, dynamic, and physiological factors driving virus and host coevolution.