|"This is our home"|
When the characters in Downton Abbey say "this is our home" or "this is where I was born" they do not indicate that they built it or that their reality in their time is the same as it was when Downton Abbey was built some 400 years prior to their current reality.
Likewise, when I refer to "The Origin Of The Home of COVID-19" I do not limit it to the current reality.
The "home" referred to in this series is the original host of the original symbiotic relationship composed of the "SARS-CoV" virus type, and more specifically the "severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)".
Why I call it "SARS-CoV-2" is because it is "now designated as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses" (Nature-Microbiology).
The popular nickname for SARS-CoV-2 is "COVID-19" (ibid).
The "where" of the host of the symbiotic relationship, for the purposes of this series, is the host microbe at the time of the symbiotic relationship between the host and once-symbiont but now pathogenic virus (now called COVID-19).
That "homie", that home host, then, is not a bat, cow, pig, chicken, etc., rather, it is a microbe, a single-celled biotic organism.
Thus, I will diverge from the "host" designation used in the "Nature-Microbiology" paper, i.e. "the CSG proposes to use the following naming convention for individual isolates: SARS-CoV-2/host/location/isolate/date" (ibid, emphasis added).
I am in good company in that divergence, because :
"...viruses can be considered as symbionts with their hosts. Symbiotic relationships encompass different lifestyles, including antagonistic (or pathogenic, the most well-studied lifestyle for viruses), commensal (probably the most common lifestyle), and mutualistic (important beneficial partners). Symbiotic relationships can shape the evolution of the partners in a holobiont, and placing viruses in this context provides an important framework for understanding virus-host relationships and virus ecology..."(On The Origin Of The Home Of Covid-19 - 2, quoting from Symbiosis: Viruses as Intimate Partners).
Interestingly enough, we are talking about an original family of multiple host/virus symbiosis:
"... the Coronaviridae. Based on phylogeny, taxonomy and established practice, the CSG recognizes this virus as forming a sister clade to the prototype human and bat severe acute respiratory syndrome coronaviruses (SARS-CoVs) of the species Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus ..."(ibid, emphasis added). More on that in subsequent posts.
The why of this series is to show that the current pathogenic phase of COVID-19 is not the original condition, instead it is a result of "the industry" having made war against the host microbe, a war which changed an original symbiont virus convert into a pathogen a la:
"Like pretty much all multi-cellular organisms, humans enjoy the benefits of helpful bacteria. (As you may have heard, there are more [microbial cells] in the human body than [human cells].) These mutualistic microbes live within the body of a larger organism, and, like any good long-term houseguest, help out their hosts, while making a successful life for themselves. It’s a win-win situation for both parties.(Microbial Languages: Rehabilitation of the Unseen--2)., quoting from Smithsonian). Thus, treating what the media calls "a war against the virus" with more "war" will produce more pathogens (more victims of war) because wars make more enemies than the do friends.
Scientists still don’t understand exactly how these relationships began, however. To find out, a team of researchers from the University of California, Riverside, used protein markers to create a detailed phylogenic tree of life for 405 taxa from the Proteobacteria phylum—a diverse group that includes pathogens such as salmonella as well as both mutualistic and free-living species.
Those analyses revealed that mutualism in Proteobacteria independently evolved between 34 to 39 times, the researchers report in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The team was a bit surprised to find that this happened so frequently, inferring that evolution apparently views this lifestyle quite favorably.
Their results also show that mutualism most often arises in species that were originally parasites and pathogens."
VI. Where Do We Start?
Let's get a clue based on a post in a microbiology-specific source, which urges us to consider that we need to understand the microbiome of bats before we can better understand the various virus/microbe relationships:
"Mammals evolved in a microbial world, and consequently, microbial symbionts have played a role in their evolution. An exciting new subdiscipline of metagenomics considers the ways in which microbes, particularly those found in the gut, have facilitated the ecological and phylogenetic radiation of mammals. However, the vast majority of such studies focus on domestic animals, laboratory models, or charismatic megafauna (e.g., pandas and chimpanzees). The result is a plethora of studies covering few taxa across the mammal tree of life, leaving broad patterns of microbiome function and evolution unclear. Wildlife microbiome research urgently needs a model system in which to test hypotheses about metagenomic involvement in host ecology and evolution. We propose that bats (Order: Chiroptera) represent a model system ideal for comparative microbiome research, affording opportunities to examine host phylogeny, diet, and other natural history characteristics in relation to the evolution of the gut microbiome."(Bats Are an Untapped System for Understanding Microbiome Evolution in Mammals, emphasis added). Ok, I'm game, let's check out the batosphere.
In the first post of this series we considered the gut microbiota found in domestic animals such as cows, pigs, and chickens.
But, we did not consider those microbiota very deeply, in terms of microbial hosts (but the K-4 kids evidently do).
We will dig deeper into that realm in subsequent posts.
But, since we are now focusing on bats, let's consider the microbiota in bat digestive systems (please excuse a few misuses of "host" in the following sources, which are otherwise quite helpful):
"When you think about bats and what they eat, does the thought of blood come to mind? Only a very small fraction of bats in the world actually survive off of the blood of other animals. The diet for the bat depends on what species you are talking about. Approximately 70% of bats consume insects and small bugs. They are referred to as insectivores. Most of the rest consume fruits and they are called frugivores ... Those that feed on bugs and insects are opportunistic. They will consume anything that they come into contact with ... A bat typically will consume about 1/3 of its own body weight in food per night ... There are two types of insects that bats consume. Most people assume they only eat those that are in the air. Those are called aerial insects and this action can take place with lightening fast speed. They usually use their tail to capture the prey and then they will stop and consume it ... Other types of insects are considered ground dwelling insects. The bats have to swoop down and get them. They often will remain on the ground long enough to consume them and then they continue on again. There are bats that don’t use their tail for catching food though. Instead, they capture it in their teeth. The method that is used depends on the particular species of bat being discussed ... A very small number of bat species also feed on vertebrates. They are said to be the carnivores of the bat world. They consume frogs, lizards, small birds, and also other species of bats. Fish also make great meals for these types of bats. Only the Vampire Bat specifically feeds only on blood for survival."(BatWorlds). Bats eat insects (which are "the enemy") to kill according to "the insecticide industry" members such as Monsanto, and those "enemies" (a.k.a. bat food) are everywhere:
"Many species [of bats] also inhabit more urban areas like farms, barns, pastures, parks, suburbs, and even cities."(Animals/Bat). Accordingly, there are many viruses implicated which will aid the ongoing research:
"Bats, which comprise about 20% of the mammal world, have many microbe types which are likely hosts to viruses"(Bats, Bacteria, and Bat Smell: Sex-Specific Diversity of Microbes in a Sexually Selected Scent Organ).
"The identification of dermatophytic fungi, isolated from the skins of cave-dwelling bat species, is necessary to distinguish pathogenic (disease-causing) microbes from those that are innocuous. This distinction is an essential step for disease diagnoses, early detection of the presence of microbial pathogens prior to symptom development, and for discrimination between microbes that are present on the skins of hibernating bats."(Discrimination between Pseudogymnoascus destructans, other Dermatophytes of Cave-dwelling Bats, and related innocuous Keratinophilic Fungi based on Electronic-nose/GC Signatures of VOC-Metabolites produced in Culture). Since microbes are the bona fide hosts of our research, notice this too:
"Microorganisms play a crucial role in maintaining the delicate ecological balance of the earth. They revitalize the soil by recycling the minerals and nutrients of decaying matter, and many are essential to the healthy growth of plants. Microorganisms also affect our lives more directly in the manufacture of such items as food products, detergents, antibiotics and antitumor drugs.(Bats, Bacteria and Biotechnology). Looking further into this subject matter, note that some research has hypothesized an interesting, and perhaps unique characteristic of the environment/ecosystem impact on bats:
A marvelous symbiosis exists between these organisms and bats. Bacteria in the mammalian intestinal tract aid in the breakdown and digestion of food. These organisms possess enzymes capable of degrading a vast array of substances. Countless microbes are regularly excreted along with waste products, and together with soil organisms, they constitute the microbial population of a bat guano deposit."
"Bats may be very susceptible to environmental change -- if they have a transient microbiome, they might not have the most stable defense mechanisms," says Lutz. 'Human-caused disturbances to the environment are a very important issue. Bats may be extra-fragile and more at risk.'"(Bats don't rely on gut bacteria the way humans do). That article points out the short length of bat intestines compared to other mammals and that they therefore have a more vulnerable gut microbiota population.
VII. Closing Comments
The gravamen of the situation is that bats have a diet that is susceptible to being contaminated by toxins from pesticides and herbicides.
Many of them live in human habitats where anti-biotic, anti-insect, and anti-plant chemicals are consistently sprayed into their habitat, and ours.
This means that we can reasonably hypothesize that these behaviors are anti-host to the point of killing symbiotic relationships and thereby creating pathogenic behavior as symbiotic hosts die and release "homeless" viruses into a strange world (for them).
In other words, the catastrophe of the Anthropogenic era is the ongoing Sixth Mass Extinction which, like the Fifth Mass Extinction, adversely impacts symbiotic relations (What Did The Mass Extinctions Do To Viruses and Microbes?).
The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.