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Microb Ecol. 2018 Nov;76(4):1076-1088. doi: 10.1007/s00248-018-1195-z. Epub 2018 Apr 29.

Eco-epidemiology of Novel Bartonella Genotypes from Parasitic Flies of Insectivorous Bats.

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Department of Parasitology and Parasitic Diseases, University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine, Cluj-Napoca, Romania.
Department of Evolutionary Zoology and Human Biology, University of Debrecen, Debrecen, Hungary.
Natural History Museum, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.
Centre for Zoonoses & Environmental Microbiology, Centre for Infectious Disease Control, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven, the Netherlands.
Romanian Bat Protection Association - Central Branch, Odorheiu Secuiesc, Romania.
Department of Zoology, Hungarian Natural History Museum, Budapest, Hungary.
Department of Zoology, Eszterházy Károly University, Eger, Hungary.
Department of Parasitology and Zoology, University of Veterinary Medicine, 2 István Street, Budapest, H-1078, Hungary.
Hungarian Department of Biology and Ecology, Babeş-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania.
Department of Parasitology and Zoology, University of Veterinary Medicine, 2 István Street, Budapest, H-1078, Hungary.
Evolutionary Systems Research Group, Centre for Ecological Research, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Tihany, Hungary.


Bats are important zoonotic reservoirs for many pathogens worldwide. Although their highly specialized ectoparasites, bat flies (Diptera: Hippoboscoidea), can transmit Bartonella bacteria including human pathogens, their eco-epidemiology is unexplored. Here, we analyzed the prevalence and diversity of Bartonella strains sampled from 10 bat fly species from 14 European bat species. We found high prevalence of Bartonella spp. in most bat fly species with wide geographical distribution. Bat species explained most of the variance in Bartonella distribution with the highest prevalence of infected flies recorded in species living in dense groups exclusively in caves. Bat gender but not bat fly gender was also an important factor with the more mobile male bats giving more opportunity for the ectoparasites to access several host individuals. We detected high diversity of Bartonella strains (18 sequences, 7 genotypes, in 9 bat fly species) comparable with tropical assemblages of bat-bat fly association. Most genotypes are novel (15 out of 18 recorded strains have a similarity of 92-99%, with three sequences having 100% similarity to Bartonella spp. sequences deposited in GenBank) with currently unknown pathogenicity; however, 4 of these sequences are similar (up to 92% sequence similarity) to Bartonella spp. with known zoonotic potential. The high prevalence and diversity of Bartonella spp. suggests a long shared evolution of these bacteria with bat flies and bats providing excellent study targets for the eco-epidemiology of host-vector-pathogen cycles.


Bartonella; Bat Fly; Chiroptera; Host-parasite Coevolution; Nycteribiidae; Pathogen Diversity

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