Available only for arXiv papers.
Bats (order: Chiroptera) are known to host a diverse range of viruses, some of which present a public health risk. Thorough viral surveillance is therefore essential to predict and potentially mitigate zoonotic spillover. Astroviruses (family: Astroviridae) are an understudied group of viruses with a growing amount of indirect evidence for zoonotic transfer. Astroviruses have been detected in bats with significant prevalence and diversity, suggesting that bats may act as important astrovirus hosts. Most astrovirus surveillance in wild bat hosts has, to date, been restricted to single-gene PCR detection and concomitant Sanger sequencing; additionally, many bat species and many geographic regions have not yet been surveyed for astroviruses at all. Here, we use metagenomic Next Generation Sequencing (mNGS) to detect astroviruses in three species of Madagascar fruit bats, Eidolon dupreanum, Pteropus rufus, and Rousettus madagascariensis. We detect numerous partial sequences from all three species and one near-full length astrovirus sequence from Rousettus madagascariensis, which we use to characterize the evolutionary history of astroviruses both within bats and the broader mammalian clade, Mamastrovirus. Taken together, applications of mNGS implicate bats as important astrovirus hosts and demonstrate novel patterns of bat astrovirus evolutionary history, particularly in the Southwest Indian Ocean region.