- PhD Student
- Supervisor: Dr. Vikram Misra, Veterinary Microbiology
- Home city and country: Bhubaneswar, India
- MBBS from Stanley Medical College, Chennai, India
- MSc Virology from National Institute of Virology, Pune, India
There is direct or circumstantial evidence that several deadly viruses like SARS, MERS, Ebola and Nipah, have spilled over into humans and other species causing serious and often fatal disease. My research focuses on looking at characterizing novel viruses detected in bats which would help us in understanding the behavior of such viruses with their natural hosts.
Our group has been studying a coronavirus that was detected in the intestines and lungs of hibernating little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus). Interestingly, presence of the virus was not accompanied by overt inflammation. Sequence variation among coronavirus detected from individual bats suggested that infection occurred prior to hibernation, and that the virus persisted up to four months of hibernation in the laboratory. Based on the sequence of its genome, the coronavirus was placed in the Alphacoronavirus genus along with some human coronaviruses, bat viruses and the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus. Detection and identification of an apparently persistent coronavirus in a local bat species creates opportunities to identify factors that contribute to coronavirus spillover.
Our group has also recently isolated a novel Gammaherpesvirus which is in the same subfamily as that of Epstein Barr virus (EBV) and Kaposi Sarcoma virus (KSHV). Interestingly, phylogenetic analysis has shown that these virus is a distant relative of all other Gammaherpesviruses. Studying such a novel virus would help us gain an insight to the evolution of these viruses.
We are trying to determine the prevalence of these viruses in the wild bats and to identify factors that alter the bat-virus dynamics leading to spillovers.