Bats are an extremely diverse collection of animals and are part of the foundation of healthy ecosystems. They are also the natural hosts of many emerging pathogens that can be harmful for people and other animals. However, the immunological mechanisms underlying the maintenance of these pathogens in their natural bat host without observable or minimal symptoms of disease remain poorly understood. The temporal patterns of virus shedding and spillover of multiple human pathogens from bats are correlated with the timing of the reproductive cycle and weaning of juvenile animals, suggesting that pregnancy may modulate bat antiviral responses and tolerance mechanisms.
We will address important knowledge gaps in the immunobiology of the Egyptian rousette bat (ERB), a known natural reservoir host for high-consequence human pathogens (e.g., Marburg virus), during pregnancy. We propose to conduct a systems-level investigation to 1) generate the first broad and foundational dataset integrating the bat transcriptome and proteome of ERBs across sex, age, and virus infection during pregnancy, and 2) use state of the art technical approaches to develop a comprehensive suite of putative biomarkers that underlie ERB immune responses to ultimately inform a functional model of the mechanisms of viral tolerance in this species.