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Mating strategy is determinant of adenovirus prevalence in European bats

Adenoviruses are double-strained DNA viruses found in a great number of vertebrates, including humans. In order to understand their transmission dynamics, it is crucial, even from a human health perspective, to investigate how host traits influence their prevalence. Bats are important reservoirs for adenoviruses, and here we use the results of recent screenings in Western Europe to evaluate the association between characteristic traits of bat species and their probability of hosting adenoviruses, taking into account their phylogenetic relationships. Across species, we found an important phylogenetic component in the presence of adenoviruses and mating strategy as the most determinant factor conditioning the prevalence of adenoviruses across bat species. Contrary to other more stable mating strategies (e.g. harems), swarming could hinder transmission of adenoviruses since this strategy implies that contacts between individuals are too short. Alternatively, bat species with more promiscuous behavior may develop a stronger immune system. Outstandingly high prevalence of adenoviruses was reported for the Iberian species Pipistrellus pygmaeus, P. kuhlii and Nyctalus lasiopterus and we found that in the latter, males were more likely to be infected by adenoviruses than females, due to the immunosuppressing consequence of testosterone during the mating season. As a general trend across species, we found that the number of adenoviruses positive individuals was different across localities and that the difference in prevalence between populations was correlated with their geographic distances for two of the three studied bat species (P. pygmaeus and P.kuhlii). These results increase our knowledge about the transmission mechanisms of adenoviruses. This work received support from: grant number: SAF2006-12784-C02/01-02 to JE, JJ, IC; URLs to sponsors’ websites:; grant numbers: SAF2009-09172 to JE, JJ; URLs to sponsors’ websites:; grant numbers: SAF2013-47194-P to JE, JJ, GP, OP; URLs to sponsors’ websites:; grant numbers: SAF2017-89355-P to JE, JJ, GP, OP, JB; URLs to sponsors’ websites:; grant numbers: PI15CIII/00028 to IC, MMIC; URLs to sponsors’ websites: The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. Sí
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