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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.


A Modified Live Bat Influenza A Virus-Based Vaccine Prototype Provides Full Protection Against HPAIV H5N1

Jacob Schön, Wei Ran, Marco Gorka, Martin Schwemmle, Martin Beer, Donata Hoffmann


  • PLoS Pathog. 2020 Apr 16;16(4):e1008384. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1008384. eCollection 2020 Apr.

Bats reveal the true power of influenza A virus adaptability.

Ciminski K, Pfaff F, Beer M, Schwemmle M.


  • Viruses. 2020 Feb 19;12(2). pii: E232. doi: 10.3390/v12020232

Characterization of Experimental Oro-Nasal Inoculation of Seba's Short-Tailed Bats (Carollia perspicillata) with Bat Influenza A Virus H18N11

Gorka M, Schinköthe J, Ulrich R, Ciminski K, Schwemmle M, Beer M, Hoffmann D.


  • Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med 2019 Dec 30[Online ahead of print]

Bat-Borne Influenza A Viruses: An Awakening

Kevin Ciminsk , Martin Schwemmle 


  • Nat Microbiol. 2019 Sep 16. doi: 10.1038/s41564-019-0556-9.

Bat influenza viruses transmit among bats but are poorly adapted to non-bat species

Ciminski K, Ran W, Gorka M, Lee J, Malmlov A, Schinköthe J, Eckley M, Murrieta RA, Aboellail TA, Campbell CL, Ebel GD, Ma J, Pohlmann A, Franzke K, Ulrich R, Hoffmann D3, García-Sastre A, Ma W, Schountz T, Beer M, Schwemmle M.


  • Emerg Microbes Infect. 2019;8(1):556-563. doi: 10.1080/22221751.2019.1599301.

Human MxA is a potent interspecies barrier for the novel bat-derived influenza A-like virus H18N11.

Ciminski K, Pulvermüller J, Adam J, Schwemmle M.


  • Nature. 2019 Mar;567(7746):109-112. doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-0955-3. Epub 2019 Feb 20

MHC class II proteins mediate cross-species entry of bat influenza viruses.

Karakus U, Thamamongood T, Ciminski K, Ran W, Günther SC, Pohl MO, Eletto D, Jeney C, Hoffmann D, Reiche S, Schinköthe J, Ulrich R, Wiener J, Hayes MGB, Chang MW, Hunziker A, Yángüez E, Aydillo T, Krammer F, Oderbolz J, Meier M, Oxenius A, Halenius A, Zimmer G, Benner C, Hale BG, García-Sastre A, Beer M7, Schwemmle M, Stertz S.


  • J Virol. 2018 Mar 14;92(7).pii: e02021-17. doi: 10.1128/JVI.02021-17. Print 2018 Apr 1

Specific Mutations in the PB2 Protein of Influenza A Virus Compensate for the Lack of Efficient Interferon Antagonism of the NS1 Protein of Bat Influenza A-Like Viruses.

Aydillo T, Ayllon J, Pavlisin A, Martinez-Romero C, Tripathi S, Mena I, Moreira-Soto A, Vicente-Santos A, Corrales-Aguilar E, Schwemmle M, García-Sastre A.


  • J Virol. 2018 Feb 12;92(5). pii:e02097-17.doi: 10.1128/JVI.02097-17. Print 2018 Mar 1

Unexpected Functional Divergence of Bat Influenza Virus NS1 Proteins.

Turkington HL, Juozapaitis M, Tsolakos N, Corrales-Aguilar E, Schwemmle M, Hale BG.


  • J Gen Virol. 2017 Oct;98(10):2393-2400. doi: 10.1099/jgv.0.000927.Epub 2017 Sep 14

Novel insights into bat influenza A viruses.

Ciminski K, Thamamongood T, Zimmer G, Schwemmle M.


  • Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 Nov 8;113(45):12797-12802. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1608821113. Epub 2016 Oct 24

Synthetically derived bat influenza A-like viruses reveal a cell type- but not species-specific tropism.

Moreira ÉA, Locher S, Kolesnikova L, Bolte H, Aydillo T, García-Sastre A, Schwemmle M, Zimmer G


  • Curr Opin Virol. 2016 Feb;16:114-119. doi: 10.1016/j.coviro.2016.02.003. Epub 2016 Mar 3

Chiropteran influenza viruses: flu from bats or a relic from the past?

Brunotte L, Beer M, Horie M, Schwemmle M.


  • J Virol. 2015 Oct;89(20):10696-701. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01430-15. Epub 2015 Aug 5

Novel Bat Influenza Virus NS1 Proteins Bind Double-Stranded RNA and Antagonize Host Innate Immunity.

Turkington HL, Juozapaitis M, Kerry PS, Aydillo T, Ayllon J, García-Sastre A, Schwemmle M, Hale BG


  • PLoS Pathog. 2015 Jun 4;11(6):e1004819. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1004819. eCollection 2015 Jun

Expected and Unexpected Features of the Newly Discovered Bat Influenza A-like Viruses.

Ma W, García-Sastre A, Schwemmle M.


  • Nat Commun. 2014 Jul 23;5:4448. doi: 10.1038/ncomms5448

An infectious bat-derived chimeric influenza virus harbouring the entry machinery of an influenza A virus.

Juozapaitis M, Aguiar Moreira É, Mena I, Giese S, Riegger D, Pohlmann A, Höper D, Zimmer G, Beer M, García-Sastre A, Schwemmle M.



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