Using host traits to predict reservoir host species of rabies virus

Worsley-Tonks, K. E.L., Escobar, L. E., Biek, R. , Castaneda-Guzman, M., Craft, M. E., Streicker, D. G. , White, L. A. and Fountain-Jones, N. M. (2020) Using host traits to predict reservoir host species of rabies virus. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 14(12), e0008940. (doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0008940) (PMID:33290391) (PMCID:PMC7748407)

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Abstract

Wildlife are important reservoirs for many pathogens, yet the role that different species play in pathogen maintenance frequently remains unknown. This is the case for rabies, a viral disease of mammals. While Carnivora (carnivores) and Chiroptera (bats) are the canonical mammalian orders known to be responsible for the maintenance and onward transmission of rabies Lyssavirus (RABV), the role of most species within these orders remains unknown and is continually changing as a result of contemporary host shifting. We combined a trait-based analytical approach with gradient boosting machine learning models to identify physiological and ecological host features associated with being a reservoir for RABV. We then used a cooperative game theory approach to determine species-specific traits associated with known RABV reservoirs. Being a carnivore reservoir for RABV was associated with phylogenetic similarity to known RABV reservoirs, along with other traits such as having larger litters and earlier sexual maturity. For bats, location in the Americas and geographic range were the most important predictors of RABV reservoir status, along with having a large litter. Our models identified 44 carnivore and 34 bat species that are currently not recognized as RABV reservoirs, but that have trait profiles suggesting their capacity to be or become reservoirs. Further, our findings suggest that potential reservoir species among bats and carnivores occur both within and outside of areas with current RABV circulation. These results show the ability of a trait-based approach to detect potential reservoirs of infection and could inform rabies control programs and surveillance efforts by identifying the types of species and traits that facilitate RABV maintenance and transmission.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Streicker, Dr Daniel and Biek, Professor Roman and Craft, Dr Meggan
Creator Roles:
Biek, R.Supervision, Writing – review and editing
Craft, M.Writing – review and editing
Craft, M. E.Supervision
Streicker, D. G.Supervision, Writing – review and editing
Authors: Worsley-Tonks, K. E.L., Escobar, L. E., Biek, R., Castaneda-Guzman, M., Craft, M. E., Streicker, D. G., White, L. A., and Fountain-Jones, N. M.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Life Sciences
Journal Name:PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Publisher:Public Library of Science
ISSN:1935-2727
ISSN (Online):1935-2735
Published Online:08 December 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 Worsley-Tonks et al.
First Published:First published in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 14(12): e0008940
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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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