Hologenomic adaptations underlying the evolution of sanguivory in the common vampire bat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Zijun Xiong
  • Marina Escalera-Zamudio
  • Anne Kathrine Runge
  • Julien Thézé
  • Daniel Streicker
  • Hannah K. Frank
  • Elizabeth Loza-Rubio
  • Shengmao Liu
  • Oliver A. Ryder
  • Jose Alfredo Samaniego Castruita
  • Aris Katzourakis
  • George Pacheco
  • Blanca Taboada
  • Ulrike Löber
  • Oliver G. Pybus
  • Yang Li
  • Edith Rojas-Anaya
  • Kristine Bohmann
  • Aldo Carmona Baez
  • Carlos F. Arias
  • Shiping Liu
  • Alex D. Greenwood
  • Mads F. Bertelsen
  • Nicole E. White
  • Michael Bunce
  • Guojie Zhang
  • Thomas Sicheritz-Pontén
  • M. P.Thomas Gilbert

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • University of Copenhagen
  • Kunming Institute of Zoology Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • China National Genebank
  • Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW)
  • University of Oxford
  • University of Glasgow
  • Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, USA
  • Centro Nacional de Investigación Disciplinaria en Microbiología Animal-INIFAP
  • San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research
  • Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
  • Instituto de Matemáticas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Circuito Exterior, Ciudad Universitaria
  • Freie Universitat Berlin
  • Center for Zoo and Wild Animal Health
  • Curtin University
  • Technical University of Denmark
  • Norwegian University of Science and Technology


Adaptation to specialized diets often requires modifications at both genomic and microbiome levels. We applied a hologenomic approach to the common vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus), one of the only three obligate blood-feeding (sanguivorous) mammals, to study the evolution of its complex dietary adaptation. Specifically, we assembled its high-quality reference genome (scaffold N50 = 26.9 Mb, contig N50 = 36.6 kb) and gut metagenome, and compared them against those of insectivorous, frugivorous and carnivorous bats. Our analyses showed a particular common vampire bat genomic landscape regarding integrated viral elements, a dietary and phylogenetic influence on gut microbiome taxonomic and functional profiles, and that both genetic elements harbour key traits related to the nutritional (for example, vitamin and lipid shortage) and non-nutritional (for example, nitrogen waste and osmotic homeostasis) challenges of sanguivory. These findings highlight the value of a holistic study of both the host and its microbiota when attempting to decipher adaptations underlying radical dietary lifestyles.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)659-668
Number of pages10
JournalNature Ecology and Evolution
Issue number4
Early online date19 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018