Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover (TiHo)TiHo eLib

Long-term host-pathogen evolution of endogenous beta- and gammaretroviruses in mouse lemurs with little evidence of recent retroviral introgression

Madagascar’s flora and fauna have evolved in relative isolation since the island split from the African and Indian continents. When the last common ancestors of lemurs left Africa between 40 and 70 million years ago, they carried a subset of the viral diversity of the mainland population within them, which continued to evolve throughout the lemur radiation. Relative to other primate radiations, we know very little about the past or present viral diversity of lemurs, particularly mouse lemurs. Using high-throughput sequencing, we identified two gammaretroviruses and three betaretroviruses in the genomes of four species of wild mouse lemurs. The two gammaretroviruses and two betaretroviruses have not previously been described. One betaretrovirus was previously identified. All identified viruses are present in both Lorisiformes and Lemuriformes but absent from haplorrhine primates. The estimated ages of these viruses are consistent with the estimated divergence dates of the host lineages, suggesting they colonized the lemur genome after the Haplorrhine–Strepsirrhine split, but before the Lorisiformes–Lemuriformes split and before the colonization of Madagascar. The viral phylogenies connect multiple lineages of retroviruses from non-lemur and non-Madagascar-native species, suggesting substantial cross-species transmission occurred deep in the primate clade prior to its geographic dispersal. These phylogenies provide novel insights into known retroviral clades. They suggest that the origin of gammaretroviruses in rodents or bats may be premature and that the Jaagsiekte sheep virus clade may be older and more broadly distributed among mammals than previously thought.

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