Origin and cross-species transmission of bat coronaviruses in China
Kevin J Olival,
Aleksei A Chmura,
Hume E Field,
Jonathan H Epstein,
Posted 31 May 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.05.31.116061
Posted 31 May 2020
Bats are presumed reservoirs of diverse coronaviruses (CoVs) including progenitors of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)-CoV and SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of COVID-19. However, the evolution and diversification of these coronaviruses remains poorly understood. We used a Bayesian statistical framework and sequence data from all known bat-CoVs (including 630 novel CoV sequences) to study their macroevolution, cross-species transmission, and dispersal in China. We find that host-switching was more frequent and across more distantly related host taxa in alpha- than beta-CoVs, and more highly constrained by phylogenetic distance for beta-CoVs. We show that inter-family and -genus switching is most common in Rhinolophidae and the genus Rhinolophus. Our analyses identify the host taxa and geographic regions that define hotspots of CoV evolutionary diversity in China that could help target bat-CoV discovery for proactive zoonotic disease surveillance. Finally, we present a phylogenetic analysis suggesting a likely origin for SARS-CoV-2 in Rhinolophus spp. bats. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.
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