The outbreak of the SARS coronavirus in 2002/2003 and the recent disease cases with a new human coronavirus (originally designated EMC-CoV, recently renamed MERS-CoV) have put the focus onto the virus family Coronaviridae. Both viruses appeared to have managed to jump over the species barrier from a bat reservoir to the human population. Bats are considered to serve as a natural reservoir for coronaviruses infecting mammals. An important factor for crossing the species-barrier is the adaptation to a new receptor on cells of the new host species. During evolution coronaviruses have developed a large diversity of binding specificities demonstrating the high flexibility of the coronaviral spike protein, which is responsible for binding to target cells.