have recently been recognized in different species, the ecology of coronaviruses has not been established.
Our study indicates that bats harbor a much wider diversity of coronaviruses than any other animal species.
Viral RNA extraction, PCR, and sequencing were conducted as previously described (35).
For the reconstruction of evolutionary pathways of coronaviruses isolated from bats, coronaviruses representing the three traditional viral groups, SARS-Co Vs from humans and civets (group 4), and coronaviruses from bats (group 5) were included in analyses.
However, farm populations of palm civets were negative for SARS-Co V, while market populations tested positive, suggesting that market animals were most probably intermediate hosts for SARS-Co V and were possibly infected from another source in the markets (11, 31, 38).
Therefore, it was suggested to be a group 2b Co V (30), and in the current International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses classification system, SARS-Co V is classified as a group 2 coronavirus.
However, phylogenetic and pairwise comparisons of SARS-Co V with other coronaviruses, including those from bats (Bt Co Vs), showed that they share low homology to both group 2 and group 3 coronaviruses and therefore may belong to a new group (putative group 4) (35).
During 2003, wild animals were sampled at the live animal markets in Shenzhen and Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China.
Rectal swabs were taken, placed in transport medium, kept in liquid nitrogen for transportation to the laboratory, and then stored at −80°C.
These results indicate that diverse coronaviruses are endemic in different bat species, with repeated introductions to other animals and occasional establishment in other species.