Evidence for multiple recent host species shifts among the ranaviruses (family Iridoviridae).

Jancovich, J.K., Bremont, M., Touchman, J.W., Jacobs, B.L.
J. Virol.
Members of the genus Ranavirus (family Iridoviridae) have been recognized as major viral pathogens of cold-blooded vertebrates. Ranaviruses have been associated with amphibians, fish, and reptiles. At this time, the relationships between ranavirus species are still unclear. Previous studies suggested that ranaviruses from salamanders are more closely related to ranaviruses from fish than they are to ranaviruses from other amphibians, such as frogs. Therefore, to gain a better understanding of the relationships among ranavirus isolates, the genome of epizootic hematopoietic necrosis virus (EHNV), an Australian fish pathogen, was sequenced. Our findings suggest that the ancestral ranavirus was a fish virus and that several recent host shifts have taken place, with subsequent speciation of viruses in their new hosts. The data suggesting several recent host shifts among ranavirus species increase concern that these pathogens of cold-blooded vertebrates may have the capacity to cross numerous poikilothermic species barriers and the potential to cause devastating disease in their new hosts.
Cambridge Scientific Abstracts