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Bat Viruses and Antiviral Factors

Bats are infamous reservoirs of deadly human viruses including Ebola, SARS-CoV-2 and Hendra virus. The impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic demands that we pay closer attention to viruses hosted by bats and their potential as an emerging threat.  We have discovered, Hervey pteropid gammaretrovirus (HPG), the first replication competent retrovirus circulating in Australian fruit bats.  

While retroviruses, such as HIV, are among the most significant of virus families that have jumped from animals to humans, whether bat retroviruses have the potential to infect and cause disease directly to humans remains unknown. We have also characterised antiviral proteins in bats that are distinct and more diverse compared to counterparts in other species including humans. Our discovery suggests that bats are forearmed to deal with multiple viral threats. 

Student Project Available

Bat Antiviral Defenses Against Viruses

We aim to increase our understanding of bat retroviruses to address public health and global infectious disease threats a well as the interplay between bat antiviral factors and bat viruses to understand how bats harbour viruses without showing clinical signs of disease.

The host range of HPG will be determined by experimental infection of primary cells and cell lines from different species. Ability of bat antiviral factors to inhibit virus replication, and their mechanism of action, will be performed in cell culture-based assays.

Bats can harbour viruses without showing clinical signs of disease. Understanding how bats can co-exist with viruses can hold the key to treating viral infections in other hosts including humans. This project will also increase our fundamental understanding of bat retroviruses and could have public health implications, as bats are hunted for bush meat in many countries.

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Professor Gilda Tachedjian

Contact Professor Gilda Tachedjian for more information about this project.

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Doctor Joshua Hayward

Contact Doctor Joshua Hayward for more information about this project.



  • Philanthropy

Partners +

  • Dr Michelle Baker
  • Dr Glenn Marsh
  • Dr Ina Smith
  • Dr Sinead Williams
  • Mary Tachedjian
  • Professor Jie Cui
  • Professor Andrew Cunningham