The discovery of Bombali virus adds further support for bats as hosts of ebolaviruses

An Author Correction to this article was published on 08 November 2018

This article has been updated


Here we describe the complete genome of a new ebolavirus, Bombali virus (BOMV) detected in free-tailed bats in Sierra Leone (little free-tailed (Chaerephon pumilus) and Angolan free-tailed (Mops condylurus)). The bats were found roosting inside houses, indicating the potential for human transmission. We show that the viral glycoprotein can mediate entry into human cells. However, further studies are required to investigate whether exposure has actually occurred or if BOMV is pathogenic in humans.

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Fig. 1: Phylogenetic tree comparing the relationship of BOMV to other known filoviruses.
Fig. 2: BOMV GP-mediated entry and infection is NPC1-dependent.

Change history

  • 08 November 2018

    In the version of this Article originally published, the bat species for 12 individuals were incorrectly identified in Supplementary Table 1 and 2. After resequencing the MT-CytB and MT-CO1 segments and reviewing the data, the authors have corrected the errors for these 12 animals. In the amended version of the Supplementary Information, Supplementary Tables 1 and 2 have been replaced to include the corrected host species information. None of the 12 bats affected were positive for the Bombali virus, and the conclusions of the study are therefore unchanged.


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We thank the government of Sierra Leone for permission to conduct this work; the Sierra Leone district and community stakeholders for their support and for allowing us to perform sampling in their districts and communities; the Bombali Ministry of Health and Sanitation and Ministry of Agriculture district officers, field teams and regional lead including M. LeBreton, F. Jean Louis, K. Kargbo, L.A.M. Kenny, V. Lungay, W. Robert, E. Amara, D. Kargbo, V. Merewhether-Thompson, M. Kanu, E. Lavallie, A. Bangura, M. Turay, F.V. Bairoh, M. Sinnah and S. Yonda for performing sample collection; Yongai Saah Bona for administrative and logistic support; laboratory staff for assistance with processing the samples, including M. Coomber and O. Kanu (University of Makeni) and V. Ontiveros (UC Davis); T. O’Rourke, D. O’ Rourke (Metabiota) and D. Greig (UC Davis) for assistance with data entry, B. Lee for bioinformatics assistance and J. Morrison and A. Rasmussen for technical guidance (Columbia University); N. Randhawa for map graphics (UC Davis); and W. Karesh and J. Epstein (EcoHealth Alliance) for global input into study design. This study was made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Emerging Pandemic Threats PREDICT project (cooperative agreement number GHN-A-OO-09-00010-00) and by support from the National Institutes of Health (GM030518, S10OD012351, S10OD021764 and GM109018-05).

Author information




T.G. helped design the study, collected, analysed and interpreted the data, helped with the literature search and with writing the manuscript. S.J.A. helped design the study, collected, analysed and interpreted the data and helped with writing the manuscript. A.G. supervised the in-country activities, including obtaining permissions, and helped with sample and data collection. B.H.B. helped design the study, analysed the data and helped with the literature search. J.B. performed and supervised all aspects of field activities and helped with sample and data collection. A.T-B. and M.N.B. collected and analysed data. H.W. collected, analysed and interpreted data and helped with writing the manuscript. J.K.D. collected the data. E.L. and M.G. collected, analysed and interpreted data and helped with writing the manuscript. R.K.J. collected and analysed the data and helped with writing the manuscript. V.A.D. collected and analysed the data. G.L. collected, analysed and interpreted the data and helped with writing the manuscript. B.R.S. collected the data. A.J., B.O.K., S.K. and W.B. provided project permissions and logistical support. C.M. helped design the study and collected the data. S.S. analysed and interpreted the data and helped with writing the manuscript. C.K-J. helped design the study. K.S. oversaw the project. E.M.R. oversaw the project and analysed the data. K.C. collected and analysed the data and helped with writing the manuscript. W.I.L. analysed and interpreted the data and helped with writing the manuscript. J.A.K.M. oversaw and designed the project and helped with writing the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Tracey Goldstein or Simon J. Anthony.

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Supplementary Tables 1–4, Supplementary Figures 1–6.

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Goldstein, T., Anthony, S.J., Gbakima, A. et al. The discovery of Bombali virus adds further support for bats as hosts of ebolaviruses. Nat Microbiol 3, 1084–1089 (2018).

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