Scientists are researching mycobacteria in bats

17. 5. 2021
The scientific team led by prof. Ivo Pavlík deals with the immunity of bats, especially mycobacteria, which can cause severe lung disease in humans.

Photo: prof. MVDr. Ivo Pavlik, CSc.

The immunity of bats will be examined by a scientific team of several institutions (the Veterinary University of Brno, the Health Institute based in Ostrava and the Institute of Vertebrate Biology of the ASCR) led by MENDELU. It will focus specifically on mycobacteria, which can cause serious lung and extrapulmonary infections when transmitted to humans. Bats are apparently resistant to them. The results of the research could find application in medicine, especially in very debilitated people who have weak immunity.

The researchers build on older research, in which they found a relatively large amount of non-tuberculous bacteria in the feces of bats, also known as bat guano. Mycobacteria also decompose, among other things, a variety of organic matter, including chitin from the dead invertebrates that bats feed on. Practically nothing is known about the effect of mycobacteria on the health of bats.

According to Ivo Pavlík from the Faculty of Regional Development and International Studies MENDELU, who leads the scientific team, a number of pathogens occur in bats. Currently, the focus is mainly on viruses, but they also contain numerous species of songs, protozoa and bacteria. “Bats are known as reservoir, cushion, potential host and vector animals for numerous pathogens. However, knowledge about the presence of mycobacteria in bats is limited, “said Pavlík.

Research and sampling is currently concentrated in the Moravian Karst, especially in the Býčí skály cave, where more than 3,000 individuals winter a total of 12 species of bats every year. From their faeces, various microorganisms, including mycobacteria, spread into the cave environment. “Bats change their metabolism and immune system functions from a maximum in the summer to a minimum during the winter. The result of the reaction between the bat and mycobacteria may probably depend on these physiological changes, or on the species of the bat and its food preferences, “added Pavlík, whose three-year research was supported by the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic.

Contact for more information: prof. MVDr. Ivo Pavlík, CSc., Faculty of Regional Development and International Studies MENDELU, tel .: 773 491 836,

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