Viral zoonotic risk is homogenous among taxonomic orders of mammalian and avian reservoir hosts

Mollentze, N. and Streicker, D. G. (2020) Viral zoonotic risk is homogenous among taxonomic orders of mammalian and avian reservoir hosts. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 117(17), pp. 9423-9430. (doi: 10.1073/pnas.1919176117) (PMID:32284401) (PMCID:PMC7196766)

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Abstract

The notion that certain animal groups disproportionately maintain and transmit viruses to humans due to broad-scale differences in ecology, life history, and physiology currently influences global health surveillance and research in disease ecology, virology, and immunology. To directly test whether such “special reservoirs” of zoonoses exist, we used literature searches to construct the largest existing dataset of virus–reservoir relationships, consisting of the avian and mammalian reservoir hosts of 415 RNA and DNA viruses along with their histories of human infection. Reservoir host effects on the propensity of viruses to have been reported as infecting humans were rare and when present were restricted to one or two viral families. The data instead support a largely host-neutral explanation for the distribution of human-infecting viruses across the animal orders studied. After controlling for higher baseline viral richness in mammals versus birds, the observed number of zoonoses per animal order increased as a function of their species richness. Animal orders of established importance as zoonotic reservoirs including bats and rodents were unexceptional, maintaining numbers of zoonoses that closely matched expectations for mammalian groups of their size. Our findings show that variation in the frequency of zoonoses among animal orders can be explained without invoking special ecological or immunological relationships between hosts and viruses, pointing to a need to reconsider current approaches aimed at finding and predicting novel zoonoses.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Streicker, Dr Daniel and Mollentze, Dr Nardus
Authors: Mollentze, N., and Streicker, D. G.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Infection Immunity and Inflammation
Journal Name:Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Publisher:National Academy of Sciences
ISSN:0027-8424
ISSN (Online):1091-6490
Published Online:13 April 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 The Authors
First Published:First published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 117(17):9423-9430
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License
Related URLs:
Data DOI:10.5281/zenodo.3516613

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
169793Managing viral emergence at the interface of bats and livestockDaniel StreickerWellcome Trust (WELLCOTR)102507/Z/13/ZRInstitute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
307106Epidemiology meets biotechnology: preventing viral emergence from batsDaniel StreickerWellcome Trust (WELLCOTR)217221/Z/19/ZInstitute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
MC_UU_12014/12