, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 82–94 | Cite as

Host Biology and Anthropogenic Factors Affect Hepadnavirus Infection in a Neotropical Bat

  • Thomas HillerEmail author
  • Andrea Rasche
  • Stefan Dominik Brändel
  • Alexander König
  • Lara Jeworowski
  • M. Teague O’Mara
  • Veronika Cottontail
  • Rachel A. Page
  • Dieter Glebe
  • Jan Felix Drexler
  • Marco Tschapka
Original Contribution


The tent-making bat hepatitis B virus (TBHBV) is a hepadnavirus closely related to human hepatitis B virus. The ecology of TBHBV is unclear. We show that it is widespread and highly diversified in Peters’ tent-making bats (Uroderma bilobatum) within Panama, while local prevalence varied significantly between sample sites, ranging from 0 to 14.3%. Females showed significantly higher prevalence than males, and pregnant females were more often acutely infected than non-reproductive ones. The distribution of TBHBV in bats was significantly affected by forest cover, with higher infection rates in areas with lower forest cover. Our data indicate that loss of natural habitat may lead to positive feedback on the biotic factors driving infection possibility. These results underline the necessity of multidisciplinary studies for a better understanding of mechanisms in pathogen–host relationships and for predictions in disease ecology.


Uroderma bilobatum Bat Habitat loss TBHBV Hepatitis B virus Orthohepadnavirus 



We want to thank the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, especially Oris Acevedo and Belkys Jimenez, for providing the infrastructure and logistics for field work. We are grateful to all people of the BCI and Gamboa BatLabs for help and assistance in the field. We further want to thank Nina Schwensow for a crash course in statistical analysis of molecular data and two anonymous reviewers who helped to improve the manuscript. This study was funded by German Research Foundation (DFG) SPP 1596 Grants DR 810/1-1, GL 595/4-1, and TS 81/6-1 (to J.F.D., M.T., and D.G.), which had no influence in study design or interpretation of the results.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10393_2018_1387_MOESM1_ESM.docx (59 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 16 kb)
10393_2018_1387_MOESM2_ESM.docx (18 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 17 kb)


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Copyright information

© EcoHealth Alliance 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Hiller
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Andrea Rasche
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Stefan Dominik Brändel
    • 1
    • 2
  • Alexander König
    • 6
    • 7
    • 8
  • Lara Jeworowski
    • 9
  • M. Teague O’Mara
    • 2
    • 10
    • 11
  • Veronika Cottontail
    • 1
  • Rachel A. Page
    • 2
  • Dieter Glebe
    • 6
    • 7
    • 8
  • Jan Felix Drexler
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
    • 9
  • Marco Tschapka
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute for Evolutionary Ecology and Conservation GenomicsUniversity of UlmUlmGermany
  2. 2.Smithsonian Tropical Research InstituteBalboa, AnconRepublic of Panama
  3. 3.Corporate Member of Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu BerlinCharité – Universitätsmedizin BerlinBerlinGermany
  4. 4.Berlin Institute of Health, Institute of VirologyBerlinGermany
  5. 5.German Center for Infection Research (DZIF), Partner Site Bonn-CologneCologneGermany
  6. 6.Institute of Medical VirologyJustus Liebig UniversityGiessenGermany
  7. 7.German Reference Center for Hepatitis B and D VirusesJustus Liebig UniversityGiessenGermany
  8. 8.German Center for Infection Research (DZIF), Partner Site Giessen-Marburg-LangenGiessenGermany
  9. 9.Institute of VirologyUniversity of Bonn Medical CentreBonnGermany
  10. 10.Department of Migration and Immuno-EcologyMax Planck Institute for OrnithologyRadolfzellGermany
  11. 11.Department of BiologyUniversity of KonstanzConstanceGermany

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