The little brown bat, Myotis lucifugus, is an insectivorous microbat that ranges across the North American continent. There are 977 species of bats, and together they make up almost one quarter of all mammals. Bats are important as insect predators and plant pollinators, and they are natural reservoirs of rabies, SARS, and likely ebola. Myotis is being developed as a genetic model and is being studied for its longevity, unusual limb development and remarkable reproductive control. Female bats can not only delay fertilization and implantation, but can arrest embryonic development early in gestation. As the little brown bat can echolocate (navigate by biological sonar), it is also studied for its neuronal development, and sensory function and organization. Myotis also has potential as a model for aging, since it has a very long lifespan for its size and metabolic rate, living an average of 7 years and as long as 30 years.
The Broad Institute has sequenced the little brown bat to full (7X) coverage. We expect that the Myotis genome will be useful, both for the annotation of the human genome, as well as for the bat research community. This bat’s genome will also be used to enable gene transfer from bat to mouse to investigate the extraordinary evolution of mammalian forelimbs into bat wings.