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Analyzing SARS-Cov-2 Related Genomic Traits Among Chiroptera and Other Mammals

Animal Sciences
Hendrick Read Natalie Son

Dr. Tara Archuleta

SARS-CoV-2 has heavily impacted society due to its highly contagious nature. Understanding the relationship between factors that may have contributed to the spread of SARS-CoV-2 is important to better understand the complexities of this virus and the potential roles of mammals, especially bats (Chiroptera), as viral reservoirs in spreading future viruses. We examined the relationships between mammalian order and infection resistance (as Angiotensin Converting Enzyme 2 or ACE-2 protein binding affinity), long-term exposure to coronaviruses (as selection in coronavirus interacting proteins), and the relationship between these two factors taking order into account. We hypothesized that Chiroptera would have a lower binding affinity compared to other orders, have a higher coronavirus interacting protein selection (VIP selection), and that mammals would have an inverse relationship between coronavirus interacting protein selection and ACE-2 protein binding affinity. We conducted phylogenetic regressions using the R statistical program and found that bats have lower ACE-2 protein binding affinity than other mammals, but that orders do not differ in coronavirus VIP selection. Additionally, there is no correlation between ACE-2 protein binding affinity and coronavirus VIP selection across all mammals because correlations within orders differed. This is important because that means there are less obvious factors that contribute to an organism's resistance to SARS-CoV-2 and that the time an organism spends with SARS-CoV-2 does not directly impact an organism’s resistance to infection. By testing this interaction between organisms and coronaviruses, we could predict what happens with future coronaviruses and potentially identify intermediary species between mammals and humans.

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