Bats are important flagship species for biodiversity research; however, diversity in Southeast Asia is considerably underestimated in the current checklists and field guides. Incorporation of DNA barcoding into surveys has revealed numerous species-level taxa overlooked by conventional methods. Inclusion of these taxa in inventories provides a more informative record of diversity, but is problematic as these species lack formal description. We investigated how frequently documented, but undescribed, bat taxa are encountered in Peninsular Malaysia. We discuss whether a barcode library provides a means of recognizing and recording these taxa across biodiversity inventories. Tissue was sampled from bats trapped at Pasir Raja, Dungun Terengganu, Peninsular Malaysia. The DNA was extracted and the COI barcode region amplified and sequenced. We identified 9 species-level taxa within our samples, based on analysis of the DNA barcodes. Six specimens matched to four previously documented taxa considered candidate species but currently lacking formal taxonomic status. This study confirms the high diversity of bats within Peninsular Malaysia (9 species in 13 samples) and demonstrates how DNA barcoding allows for inventory and documentation of known taxa lacking formal taxonomic status.
Three distinct bamboo bat species (Tylonycteris) are known to inhabit tropical and subtropical areas of Asia, i.e., T. pachypus, T. robustula, and T. pygmaeus. This study performed karyotypic examinations of 4 specimens from southern Chinese T. p. fulvidus populations and one specimen from Thai T. p. fulvidus population, which detected distinct karyotypes (2n=30) compared with previous karyotypic descriptions of T. p. pachypus (2n=46) and T. robustula (2n=32) from Malaysia. This finding suggested a cryptic Tylonycteris species within T. pachypus complex in China and Thailand. Morphometric studies indicated the difficulty in distinguishing the cryptic species and T. p. pachypus from Indonesia apart from the external measurements, which might be the reason for their historical misidentification. Based on 623 bp mtDNA COI segments, a phylogeographic examination including T. pachypus individuals from China and nearby regions, i.e., Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, was conducted to examine the population genetic structure. Genealogical and phylogeographical results indicated that at least two diverged lineages existed in these regions (average 3.4 % of Kimura 2-parameter distances) and their population structure did not match the geographic pattern. These results suggested that at least two historical colonizations have occurred by the cryptic species. Furthermore, through integration of traditional and geometric morphological results, morphological differences on zygomatic arches, toothrows and bullae were detected between two lineages in China. Given the similarity of vegetation and climate of Guangdong and Guangxi regions, we suggested that such differences might be derived from their historical adaptation or distinct evolutionary history rather than the differences of habitats they occurred currently.
To date, three species of the genus Glischropus are recognized from the Indomalayan zoogeographic region-G. bucephalus from the Indochinese subregion, G. tylopus from the Sundaic subregion (Peninsular Thailand and Malaysia, Borneo, Sumatra, Moluccas) and G. javanus, restricted to Java. The investigation of the holotype and three topotype specimens of G. batjanus supported the view that the name was previously correctly regarded as the junior subjective synonym of G. tylopus. During review of material recently collected in southwestern Sumatra, Indonesia, one specimen of a yet undescribed species of Thick-thumbed bat was identified. G. aquilus n. sp. markedly differs from its congeners by its dark brown pelage, nearly black ear and tragus, and in skull proportions. The phylogenetic analysis based on cytb sequences also supports the specific distinctness of G. aquilus n. sp. Its discovery brings the count to 88 species of bats known from Sumatra.
Several published checklists of bat species have covered Peninsular Malaysia as part of a broader region and/or in combination with other mammal groups. Other researchers have produced comprehensive checklists for specific localities within the peninsula. To our knowledge, a comprehensive checklist of bats specifically for the entire geopolitical region of Peninsular Malaysia has never been published, yet knowing which species are present in Peninsular Malaysia and their distributions across the region are crucial in developing suitable conservation plans. Our literature search revealed that 110 bat species have been documented in Peninsular Malaysia; 105 species have precise locality records while five species lack recent and/or precise locality records. We retrieved 18 species from records dated before the year 2000 and seven species have only ever been recorded once. Our search of Barcode of Life Datasystems (BOLD) found that 86 (of the 110) species have public records of which 48 species have public DNA barcodes available from bats sampled in Peninsular Malaysia. Based on Neighbour-Joining tree analyses and the allocation of DNA barcodes to Barcode Index Number system (BINs) by BOLD, several DNA barcodes recorded under the same species name are likely to represent distinct taxa. We discuss these cases in detail and highlight the importance of further surveys to determine the occurences and resolve the taxonomy of particular bat species in Peninsular Malaysia, with implications for conservation priorities.
Phylogenetic comparisons of the different mammalian genetic transmission elements (mtDNA, X-, Y-, and autosomal DNA) is a powerful approach for understanding the process of speciation in nature. Through such comparisons the unique inheritance pathways of each genetic element and gender-biased processes can link genomic structure to the evolutionary process, especially among lineages which have recently diversified, in which genetic isolation may be incomplete. Bulldog bats of the genus Noctilio are an exemplar lineage, being a young clade, widely distributed, and exhibiting unique feeding ecologies. In addition, currently recognized species are paraphyletic with respect to the mtDNA gene tree and contain morphologically identifiable clades that exhibit mtDNA divergences as great as among many species. To test taxonomic hypotheses and understand the contribution of hybridization to the extant distribution of genetic diversity in Noctilio, we used phylogenetic, coalescent stochastic modeling, and divergence time estimates using sequence data from cytochrome-b, cytochrome c oxidase-I, zinc finger Y, and zinc finger X, as well as evolutionary reconstructions based on amplified fragment length polymorphisms (AFLPs) data. No evidence of ongoing hybridization between the two currently recognized species was identified. However, signatures of an ancient mtDNA capture were recovered in which an mtDNA lineage of one species was captured early in the noctilionid radiation. Among subspecific mtDNA clades, which were generally coincident with morphology and statistically definable as species, signatures of ongoing hybridization were observed in sex chromosome sequences and AFLP. Divergence dating of genetic elements corroborates the diversification of extant Noctilio beginning about 3 Ma, with ongoing hybridization between mitochondrial lineages separated by 2.5 myr. The timeframe of species' divergence within Noctilio supports the hypothesis that shifts in the dietary strategies of gleaning insects (N. albiventris) or fish (N. leporinus) are among the most rapid instances of dietary evolution observed in mammals. This study illustrates the complex evolutionary dynamics shaping gene pools in nature, how comparisons of genetic elements can serve for understanding species boundaries, and the complex considerations for accurate taxonomic assignment.
The genus Myotis includes the largest number of species in the family Vespertilionidae (Chiroptera), and its members are distributed throughout most of the world. To re-evaluate the phylogenetic position of East Asian Myotis species with respect to Myotis species worldwide, we analyzed mitochondrial gene sequences of NADH dehydrogenase subunit 1 and cytochrome b from 24 East Asian individuals as well as 42 vespertilionid bats determined previously. The results suggest that: (1) some individuals having the same species name in Europe and Japan do not form a monophyletic clade, indicating that some bat species exhibit morphological convergence, (2) Japanese Myotis mystacinus forms a sister relationship with Myotis brandtii (Palaearctic), and both species are included in the American clade implying that an ancestor of these species originated in North America, and (3) the Black whiskered bat, Myotis pruinosus, is endemic to Japan and forms sister relationships with Myotis yanbarensis and Myotis montivagus collected from Okinawa (Japan) and Selangor (Malaysia), respectively, implying that M. pruinosus originated from the south. The systematics of Japanese and East Asian Myotis bats were revisited by considering their phylogenetic relationships. Our study provides the first extensive phylogenetic hypothesis of the genus Myotis that includes East Asian and Japanese species.
The Southeast Asian species of Hypsugo are rare bats, except for H. cadornae and H. pulveratus, which are distributed throughout the Indomalayan region. Hypsugo macrotis is restricted to Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, Java and adjacent islands, and is known only from a handful of specimens. Here we report a new locality record of the species from Seremban, Peninsular Malaysia, which also represents the first known building-dweller colony of any Hypsugo from the region. We discuss the taxonomic status of two morphologically similar species, H. macrotis and H. vordermanni, and provide the first COI and cyt b gene sequences for H. macrotis and reconstruct the species' phylogenetic relationships.
Several infectious disease outbreaks with high mortality in humans have been attributed to viruses that are thought to have evolved from bat viruses. In this study from Luxembourg, the genetic diversity and epidemiology of paramyxoviruses and coronaviruses shed by the bat species Rhinolophus ferrumequinum and Myotis emarginatus were evaluated. Feces collection (n = 624) was performed longitudinally in a mixed-species colony in 2015 and 2016. In addition, feces (n = 254) were collected cross-sectionally from six Myotis emarginatus colonies in 2016. By use of degenerate primers in a nested format, overall prevalences of 1.1% (10/878) and 4.9% (43/878) were determined for paramyxoviruses and coronaviruses. Sequences of the partial RNA-dependent RNA polymerase and spike glycoprotein genes of coronaviruses, as well as sequences of the partial L gene of paramyxoviruses, were obtained. Novel paramyxovirus and Alphacoronavirus strains were identified in different Myotis emarginatus colonies, and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-related Betacoronavirus strains were shed by Rhinolophus ferrumequinum Logistic regression revealed that the level of Alphacoronavirus shedding was highest in July (odds ratio, 2.8; P < 0.01), probably due to periparturient stress. Phylogenetic analyses point to close virus-host coevolution, and the high genetic similarity of the study strains suggests that the Myotis emarginatus colonies in Luxembourg are socially connected. Most interestingly, we show that bats also host Betacoronavirus1 strains. The high similarity of the spike gene sequences of these viruses with mammalian Betacoronavirus 1 strains may be of concern. Both the SARS-related and Betacoronavirus 1 strains detected in bats in Luxembourg may cross the species barrier after a host adaptation process.IMPORTANCE Bats are a natural reservoir of a number of zoonotic pathogens. Several severe outbreaks in humans (e.g., a Nipah virus outbreak in Malaysia in 1998, and the almost global spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome in 2003) have been caused by bat-borne viruses that were transmitted to humans mostly after virus adaptation (e.g., in intermediate animal hosts). Despite the indigenousness of bat species that host viruses with suspected zoonotic potential and despite the zoonotic transmission of European bat 1 lyssavirus in Luxembourg, knowledge about the diversity and epidemiology of bat viruses remains limited in this country. Moreover, in contrast to other European countries, bat viruses are currently not included in the national surveillance activities of this land-locked country. We suggest that this gap in disease surveillance should be addressed, since we show here that synanthropic bats host viruses that may be able to cross the species barrier.
Bats of the genus Pteropus have been identified as the reservoir hosts for the henipaviruses Hendra virus (HeV) and Nipah virus (NiV). The aim of these studies was to assess likely mechanisms for henipaviruses transmission from bats. In a series of experiments, Pteropus bats from Malaysia and Australia were inoculated with NiV and HeV, respectively, by natural routes of infection. Despite an intensive sampling strategy, no NiV was recovered from the Malaysian bats and HeV was reisolated from only one Australian bat; no disease was seen. These experiments suggest that opportunities for henipavirus transmission may be limited; therefore, the probability of a spillover event is low. For spillover to occur, a range of conditions and events must coincide. An alternate assessment framework is required if we are to fully understand how this reservoir host maintains and transmits not only these but all viruses with which it has been associated.