Knowledge of the origin and reservoir of the coronavirus responsible for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is still fragmentary. To date, the closest relatives to SARS-CoV-2 have been detected in Rhinolophus bats sampled in the Yunnan province, China. Here we describe the identification of SARS-CoV-2 related coronaviruses in two Rhinolophus shameli bats sampled in Cambodia in 2010. Metagenomic sequencing identifies nearly identical viruses sharing 92.6% nucleotide identity with SARS-CoV-2. Most genomic regions are closely related to SARS-CoV-2, with the exception of a region of the spike, which is not compatible with human ACE2-mediated entry. The discovery of these viruses in a bat species not found in China indicates that SARS-CoV-2 related viruses have a much wider geographic distribution than previously reported, and suggests that Southeast Asia represents a key area to consider for future surveillance for coronaviruses.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)