Project  Urban

A refuge in the city? Effects of urbanization on stress, microbiota, and infection in bats

This project aims to better understand the physiological mechanisms related to the adaptation of bats to urban environments, and the consequences on infection dynamics, using the Reunion Free-tailed bat as a model. This project will combine questions of eco-physiology, microbial ecology, and epidemiology using serology, molecular biology, and bioinformatics approaches.

Urbanization of our landscapes is a phenomenon that has intensified in recent decades and shows no signs of slowing down. This phenomenon leads to habitat fragmentation, high levels of temperature and pollution, and gradually to the decline of certain species. Surprisingly, the urban environment also offers opportunities for many species. Faced with these new selection pressures, some species have adapted, resulting in different levels of stress. However, no study has yet examined the link between stress, microbiome, and infection in bats in an urbanization context.

Thus, we will analyze stress levels, the composition and diversity of the bacterial microbiome, and infection prevalence in bats in both natural and urban environments. We will test the hypothesis that individuals in urban environments should have higher glucocorticoid levels, a less rich bacterial microbiome, and a higher infection rate than those in natural environments. We will also focus on two types of samples - feces and urine - as they are non-invasive samples that allow measurement of stress hormone levels, and we have shown that the bacterial microbiome is distinct in bat feces and urine, and that they are routes of excretion for potentially infectious agents to humans.

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Project duration : 2022
Geographical area : Reunion Island
Funding : PEPS CNRS
Global budget : 15 k€
Amount for PIMIT : 15 k€
PIMIT coordinator : Muriel DIETRICH (PI)
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