Slandered, slandered, feared. They are bats. It may not be the cutest animal in the world. Yes, but boy, they have great skills and unique adaptations. The genetic material encoding bat superpowers has never been revealed before. Until now. And these results may be much more useful to people than you imagine.
It was revealed and published in Nature. Bats are known to have very special abilities. Fly, use sounds to move in complete darkness, and tolerate deadly diseases. They also resist aging and cancer. This caught Bat1K’s attention. It is a worldwide consortium of scientists. And it is dedicated to the genome sequencing of each of the 1,421 species of living bats. Generated six high-precision bat genomes. They are ten times more complete than any previously published bat genome.
Bats and viruses
Professor Aris Katzourakis is a member of the Zoological Institute at Oxford University. He is a co-author of the study. He says It is a statement: “Mammalian genomes contain traces of old viral infections. They are in the form of endogenous viral elements. This can elucidate the association pattern between viruses and their hosts for millions of years. We could better predict possible zoonotic spreading events. “
Emma Teeling is a co-founder of Bat1K. She is also the lead author of the study. He says: “Now we can better understand how bats tolerate viruses and slow aging. And maybe how his flight and echolocation evolved. These genomes could be used to alleviate human aging and diseases. “
With cats and dogs
Katzourakis says: “We have found a large number of endogenous viruses in the high-quality genomes of these six bat species. They show a surprising variety of endogenous retroviruses. There are some sequences that have never been recorded in mammalian genomes before. We confirm old interactions between bats and complex retroviruses. It is a type of virus that includes viruses that are responsible for immunodeficiency and leukemia. “
The team compared this bat genome to 42 other mammals. They found that bats are closely related to a group called Ferreungulata. It consists of carnivores (including dogs, cats and seals), psoriasis, whales and hoofed animals (hoofed mammals).
Bat superpowers include the ability to tolerate viruses. The exquisite genomes revealed “petrified viruses”. It is evidence of the survival of previous viral infections. It was found that bat genomes contained a greater variety than other species. And that provides a genomic record of historical tolerance to infections. In the future, people could try to imitate this tolerance.
Yes, we know that sometimes they cause fear. Maybe it’s not her fault. The cinema was responsible for connecting them to nightmare monsters. However, they have great secrets in their genes. And it doesn’t hurt to look at her with different eyes. With the eyes of science. Why not? We can start now.