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Volume 583 Issue 7817, 23 July 2020

Secrets of the bat clade

Bats have evolved some extraordinary adaptations including echolocation, exceptional longevity and a unique immune system. In this week’s issue, Emma Teeling, Sonja Vernes and their colleagues present reference-quality genomes for six species of bat sequenced by the Bat1K consortium. Together, these sequences help provide insights into the evolutionary origins and molecular basis of bat adaptations. The researchers identified the phylogenetic position of bats in mammals, show that genes involved in hearing were selected for in the ancestral branch of bats, and they provide evidence for the molecular mechanisms that may have contributed to bats’ exceptional immune system. The genomes should also aid studies of how bats tolerate coronavirus infections, which may, in the future, yield approaches to increase the human survivability of diseases such as COVID-19.

Cover image: Greater mouse-eared bat (Myotis myotis); credit: Olivier Farcy.

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