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Institute of Virology

Characterization of bat influenza viruses

In 2012 the complete sequence of an influenza virus was discovered in the fruit bat Sturnira lilium (little yellow-shouldered bat) from Central America. One year later, the sequence of a second bat influenza virus was identified in the flat-faced fruit bat (Artibeus planirostris) from Peru, suggesting a broader distribution and diversity of bat influenza viruses at least in Central and South America. However, no viable viruses could be isolated from these animals. Analysis of the viral surface proteins revealed that the entry machinery of these viruses differs significantly from all other known influenza A viruses. Using reverse genetic technologies, we could recently generate authentic bat influenza viruses. The reconstruction of bat influenza virus provides now the unique possibility to perform future risk assessment.

Sturnira lilium (little-yellow shouldered bat). Photograph kindly provided by Diane da Cruz Miranda.




  1. Moreira ÉA, Locher S, Kolesnikova L, Bolte H, Aydillo T, García-Sastre A, Schwemmle M, Zimmer G.
    Synthetically derived bat influenza A-like viruses reveal a cell type- but not species-specific tropism.
    Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 Oct 24. pii: 201608821. [Epub ahead of print]
  2. Moreira ÉA, Weber A, Bolte H, Kolesnikova L, Giese S, Lakdawala S, Beer M, Zimmer G, García-Sastre A, Schwemmle M, Juozapaitis M.
    A conserved influenza A virus nucleoprotein code controls specific viral genome packaging. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27650413) Nat Commun. 2016 Sep 21;7:12861. doi: 10.1038/ncomms12861.
  3. Brunotte L, Beer M, Horie M, Schwemmle M.
    Chiropteran influenza viruses: flu from bats or a relic from the past?
    Curr Opin Virol. 2016 Feb;16:114-119. doi: 10.1016/j.coviro.2016.02.003. Epub 2016 Mar 3. Review.
  4. Turkington HL, Juozapaitis M, Kerry PS, Aydillo T, Ayllon J, García-Sastre A, Schwemmle M, Hale BG.
    Novel Bat Influenza Virus NS1 Proteins Bind Double-Stranded RNA and Antagonize Host Innate Immunity.
    J Virol. 2015 Oct;89(20):10696-701. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01430-15. Epub 2015 Aug 5.
  5. Ma W, García-Sastre A, Schwemmle M.
    Expected and Unexpected Features of the Newly Discovered Bat Influenza A-like Viruses. PLoS Pathog. 2015 Jun 4;11(6):e1004819. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1004819. eCollection 2015 Jun. Review.
  6. Juozapaitis M, Aguiar Moreira É, Mena I, Giese S, Riegger D, Pohlmann A, Höper D, Zimmer G, Beer M, García-Sastre A, Schwemmle M.
    An infectious bat-derived chimeric influenza virus harbouring the entry machinery of an influenza A virus. Nat Commun. 2014 Jul 23;5:4448. doi: 10.1038/ncomms5448.

Press releases:

Institut für Virologie

Hermann-Herder-Strasse 11
D-79104 Freiburg

Ärztlicher Direktor

Prof. Dr. med. Hartmut Hengel

Team Leader:

Martin Schwemmle
(Ph.D., Professor)
Phone: +49 761 203 6526
Fax: +49 761 203 6639