Recently, many good news came to me regarding grant and fellowship applications.
My proposal “Molecular evolution of bat-borne viruses and their hosts” got funding from the National Research, Development and Innovation Office. Bat-borne viruses became one of the leading topics in virus research after the SARS epidemic in the early 2000s. The COVID-19 pandemic further facilitated this and now considerable part of zoonotic virus research deals with bat viruses. Most of them – beside SARS-CoV-2 research – however targets only the screening and characterizing of new viruses, which is part of our project as well. However, we would like to go beyond simple screening, and would like to study the evolution of bat-borne viruses in the host-virus context. Our main topics are the co-evolution of bats and their viruses, co-existence of several viruses in the host, host change patterns and the determinants of these phenomena, like the differences in host phylogenetics and population genetics as well as the co-roosting of different species and the global change-driven area expansion. A long-standing problem is that tropical bats are often hard to identify and the corresponding sequences in the Genbank are erroneously determined, hence beside bat systematic work, we would like to build a reference sequence database of SE Asian bats, which will help to determine bats relatively easily. We expect that these new studies, which need the close cooperation of bat and virus researchers – will produce several significant results to prevent or successfully mitigate future epidemics.
If you work with European or Southeast Asian bats, their ectoparasites or viruses, and want to join to this work, do not hesitate to contact me!
I’m most indebted that the advisory board of the precious János Bolyai Research Scholarship of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences supported my application. Also, my Bolyai+ Scholarship for Young Higher Education Teachers and Researchers proposal got support from the New National Excellence Programme.