Preprint Short Note Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Understanding the Origin of ‘BatCoVRaTG13’, a Virus Closest to SARS-CoV-2

Version 1 : Received: 19 May 2020 / Approved: 20 May 2020 / Online: 20 May 2020 (07:08:38 CEST)
Version 2 : Received: 24 May 2020 / Approved: 24 May 2020 / Online: 24 May 2020 (20:02:22 CEST)

How to cite: Rahalkar, M.C.; Bahulikar, R.A. Understanding the Origin of ‘BatCoVRaTG13’, a Virus Closest to SARS-CoV-2. Preprints 2020, 2020050322. Rahalkar, M.C.; Bahulikar, R.A. Understanding the Origin of ‘BatCoVRaTG13’, a Virus Closest to SARS-CoV-2. Preprints 2020, 2020050322.


Genomic analysis indicates that SARS-CoV-2 is most related to RaTG13, a beta corona virus derived from bats by 96% 1, a study led by Dr. Zhengli Shi. The physical description of RaTG13 is not available and at present only RaTG13 genome is available on the public database. Since RaTG13 is one of the main supports for SARS-COV-2 to have a natural origin, it is of utmost importance to understand the origin of this virus/ the exact sample from which the genome was sequenced. Here we have tried to investigate the origin of the sample from which RaTG13 would have been sequenced and its phylogenetic relationship to the previously described bat corona viruses. The genome of RaTG13 was sequenced from RNA of a bat fecal swab collected in 2013 from Yunnan, China. RNA dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) of RaTG13 shows that it is 100% similar to that of bat corona virus BtCoV/4991 also described by Dr. Zhengli Shi and her group in 2016 2. BtCoV/4991 was described to be a SARS-like (SL-) corona virus from bat feces sampled in an abandoned mine from Mojiang. These facts increase the possibility that RaTG13 could be the same as BtCoV/4991, based on the RdRp sequence similarities and similarities in sample collection dates and regions. RaTG13 RNA sample could have originated from the bat feces collected from an abandoned mineshaft in Mojiang. In 2012, this mineshaft reported deaths of three miners due to pneumonia and the exact etiological reason remained unknown. Paramyxoviruses were detected in the rats of this mineshaft and in general, the conditions were filthy with bat feces covered with fungi, etc. Dr. Zhengli Shi and her coworkers studied 276 bats fecal/anal swab samples from which a single SL-corona virus was detected, and this was BtCoV/4991. Therefore, the Rhinolophus affinis bat fecal sample originating from the abandoned mineshaft could be the source of the RaTG13 genome.


SARS-CoV-2; RATG13; BtCoV/4991; SARS-like (SL-) corona virus


Biology and Life Sciences, Virology

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