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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.


  • Nat Commun. 2024 May 27;15(1):4500.doi: 10.1038/s41467-024-48934-6.

Deciphering bat influenza H18N11 infection dynamics in male Jamaican fruit bats on a single-cell level

Susanne Kessler, Bradly Burke, Geoffroy Andrieux, Jan Schinköthe, Lea Hamberger, Johannes Kacza, Shijun Zhan, Clara Reasoner, Taru S Dutt, Maria Kaukab Osman, Marcela Henao-Tamayo, Julian Staniek, Jose Francisco Villena Ossa, Dalit T Frank, Wenjun Ma, Reiner Ulrich, Toni Cathomen, Melanie Boerries, Marta Rizzi, Martin Beer, Martin Schwemmle, Peter Reuther, Tony Schountz, Kevin Ciminski


  • Nat Commun 2024 Apr 25;15(1):3450.doi: 10.1038/s41467-024-47455-6.

Bat-borne H9N2 influenza virus evades MxA restriction and exhibits efficient replication and transmission in ferrets

Nico Joel Halwe, Lea Hamberger, Julia Sehl-Ewert, Christin Mache, Jacob Schön, Lorenz Ulrich, Sten Calvelage, Mario Tönnies, Jonas Fuchs, Pooja Bandawane, Madhumathi Loganathan, Anass Abbad, Juan Manuel Carreño, Maria C Bermúdez-González, Viviana Simon, Ahmed Kandeil, Rabeh El-Shesheny, Mohamed A Ali, Ghazi Kayali, Matthias Budt, Stefan Hippenstiel, Andreas C Hocke, Florian Krammer, Thorsten Wolff, Martin Schwemmle, Kevin Ciminski, Donata Hoffmann, Martin Beer 


  • Methods Mol Biol. 2024:2733:75-86.doi: 10.1007/978-1-0716-3533-9_5.

Reverse Genetics of Bat Influenza A Viruses

Susanne Kessler, Adolfo García-Sastre, Martin Schwemmle, Kevin Ciminski


  • J Virol. 2023 Aug 4;e0038823.doi: 10.1128/jvi.00388-23. Online ahead of print.

The M2 proteins of bat influenza A viruses reveal atypical features compared to conventional M2 proteins

Danielle Thompson, Christiana Victoria Cismaru, Jean-Sebastien Rougier, Martin Schwemmle, Gert Zimmer


  • PLoS Biol. 2023 Jul 6;21(7):e3002182.doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3002182. eCollection 2023 Jul.

Evolutionarily conserved amino acids in MHC-II mediate bat influenza A virus entry into human cells

Okikiola M Olajide, Maria Kaukab Osman, Jonathan Robert, Susanne Kessler, Lina Kathrin Toews, Thiprampai Thamamongood, Jacques Neefjes, Antoni G Wrobel, Martin Schwemmle, Kevin Ciminski, Peter Reuther


Generation of an Attenuated Chimeric Bat Influenza A Virus Live-Vaccine Prototype

Wei Ran, Jacob Schön, Kevin Ciminski, Julian Kraft, Susanne Kessler, Sophie Euchner, Donata Hoffmann , Anne Pohlmann, Martin Beer, Martin Schwemmle, Sebastian Giese


  • Viruses 2021 Apr 14;13(4):672.doi: 10.3390/v13040672

Egyptian Fruit Bats ( Rousettus aegyptiacus) Were Resistant to Experimental Inoculation with Avian-Origin Influenza A Virus of Subtype H9N2, But Are Susceptible to Experimental Infection with Bat-Borne H9N2 Virus

Nico Joel Halwe, Marco Gorka, Bernd Hoffmann, Melanie Rissmann, Angele Breithaupt, Martin Schwemmle, Martin Beer, Ahmed Kandeil, Mohamed A Ali , Ghazi Kayali , Donata Hoffmann, Anne Balkema-Buschmann


  • Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med 2021 Feb 1;11(2):a038612

Bat-Borne Influenza A Viruses: An Awakening

Kevin Ciminski, Martin Schwemmle


Press releases:

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.


Institut für Virologie

Hermann-Herder-Strasse 11
D-79104 Freiburg

Ärztlicher Direktor

Prof. Dr. med. Hartmut Hengel

The European Research Council