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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2012 Nov;78(22):8122-36. doi: 10.1128/AEM.01791-12. Epub 2012 Sep 21.

Characterizing Pneumocystis in the lungs of bats: understanding Pneumocystis evolution and the spread of Pneumocystis organisms in mammal populations.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Parasitologie (EA4547), Faculté de Pharmacie, Université Lille Nord de France (USDL), Lille, France.


Bats belong to a wide variety of species and occupy diversified habitats, from cities to the countryside. Their different diets (i.e., nectarivore, frugivore, insectivore, hematophage) lead Chiroptera to colonize a range of ecological niches. These flying mammals exert an undisputable impact on both ecosystems and circulation of pathogens that they harbor. Pneumocystis species are recognized as major opportunistic fungal pathogens which cause life-threatening pneumonia in severely immunocompromised or weakened mammals. Pneumocystis consists of a heterogeneous group of highly adapted host-specific fungal parasites that colonize a wide range of mammalian hosts. In the present study, 216 lungs of 19 bat species, sampled from diverse biotopes in the New and Old Worlds, were examined. Each bat species may be harboring a specific Pneumocystis species. We report 32.9% of Pneumocystis carriage in wild bats (41.9% in Microchiroptera). Ecological and behavioral factors (elevation, crowding, migration) seemed to influence the Pneumocystis carriage. This study suggests that Pneumocystis-host association may yield much information on Pneumocystis transmission, phylogeny, and biology in mammals. Moreover, the link between genetic variability of Pneumocystis isolated from populations of the same bat species and their geographic area could be exploited in terms of phylogeography.

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