Viral Communities Among Sympatric Vampire Bats and Cattle


Vampire bats are the only mammals known to feed exclusively on blood from other animals, often from domestic cattle. We tested the hypothesis that the adaptation of vampire bats to hematophagy would have resulted in shared viral communities among vampire bats and cattle, as a direct result of historic spillover events occurring due to hematophagy. We analyzed the presence of different viruses in sample populations of sympatric bat and prey populations and searched for shared viruses between taxa. A limited number of DNA viral groups were detected within each species. However, there was no evidence for a shared viral community among the vampire bat and cattle populations tested.

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We thank the Instituto de Biotecnologia-UNAM for granting access to the computer cluster and Jerome Verleyen for the computational support.


This work was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) (grant no. GR 3924/9-1 to A.D.G) and an international doctoral scholarship provided by the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACyT) of Mexico and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) (grant no. 311664 to M.E.Z).

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MEZ and ADG designed research; MEZ performed research, and MEZ, BT and UL analyzed data. ELR and ERA provided samples and contributed to sample processing; CFA contributed to sample processing and data analysis support. MEZ and ADG wrote the paper, with comments from all authors.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Marina Escalera-Zamudio or Alex D. Greenwood.

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Escalera-Zamudio, M., Taboada, B., Rojas-Anaya, E. et al. Viral Communities Among Sympatric Vampire Bats and Cattle. EcoHealth 15, 132–142 (2018).

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  • Vampire bats
  • Cattle
  • DNA viruses
  • Spillover
  • High-throughput sequencing
  • PCR