The environmental bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei causes an estimated 165,000 cases of human melioidosis per year worldwide and is also classified as a biothreat agent. We used whole genome sequences of 469 B. pseudomallei isolates from 30 countries collected over 79 years to explore its geographic transmission. Our data point to Australia as an early reservoir, with transmission to Southeast Asia followed by onward transmission to South Asia and East Asia. Repeated reintroductions were observed within the Malay Peninsula and between countries bordered by the Mekong River. Our data support an African origin of the Central and South American isolates with introduction of B. pseudomallei into the Americas between 1650 and 1850, providing a temporal link with the slave trade. We also identified geographically distinct genes/variants in Australasian or Southeast Asian isolates alone, with virulence-associated genes being among those over-represented. This provides a potential explanation for clinical manifestations of melioidosis that are geographically restricted.
Bats are special in their ability to host emerging viruses. As the only flying mammal, bats endure high metabolic rates yet exhibit elongated lifespans. It is currently unclear whether these unique features are interlinked. The important inflammasome sensor, NLR family pyrin domain containing 3 (NLRP3), has been linked to both viral-induced and age-related inflammation. Here, we report significantly dampened activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome in bat primary immune cells compared to human or mouse counterparts. Lower induction of apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing a CARD (ASC) speck formation and secretion of interleukin-1β in response to both 'sterile' stimuli and infection with multiple zoonotic viruses including influenza A virus (-single-stranded (ss) RNA), Melaka virus (PRV3M, double-stranded RNA) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (+ssRNA) was observed. Importantly, this reduction of inflammation had no impact on the overall viral loads. We identified dampened transcriptional priming, a novel splice variant and an altered leucine-rich repeat domain of bat NLRP3 as the cause. Our results elucidate an important mechanism through which bats dampen inflammation with implications for longevity and unique viral reservoir status.