The isolation of Lloviu virus from Italy

Lloviu cuevavirus (LLOV) was the first identified member of Filoviridae family outside the Ebola and Marburgvirus genera. A massive die-off of Schreibers’s bats (Miniopterus schreibersii) in the Iberian Peninsula in 2002 led to its initial discovery. Recent studies with recombinant and wild-type LLOV isolates confirmed the zoonotic nature of the virus in vitro. We examined bat samples from Italy for the presence of LLOV in an area outside of the currently known distribution range of the virus. We detected one positive sample from 2020, sequenced the complete coding region of the viral genome and established an infectious isolate of the virus. In addition, we performed the first comprehensive evolutionary analysis of the virus, using the Spanish, Hungarian and the Italian sequences. The most important achievement of this study is the establishment of an additional infectious LLOV isolate from a bat sample using the SuBK12-08 cells, demonstrating that this cell line is highly susceptible to LLOV infection and confirming the previous observation that these bats are effective hosts of the virus in nature. This result further strengthens the role of bats as the natural hosts for zoonotic filoviruses. Read more in our Scientific Reports article.