The near extinction of the western barred bandicoot has led to the identification of a novel virus exhibiting characteristics of two ancient virus families.
The western barred bandicoot (WWB), an Australian marsupial once commonly found across western and southern Australia, is now endangered throughout parts of the country and already extinct on the mainland. While promoting conservation efforts, researchers discovered a debilitating disease affecting the species causing full body lesions.
Papillomaviruses (PVs) and polyomaviruses (PyVs) are known to infect human, mammalian, and avian species. They were previously considered subunits of the Papovaviridae family, however they are currently recognized as two separate virus families due to significantly different genome sizes and organizations.
In the study researchers from Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia, and the University of Leuven, Belgium analyzed skin swabs taken from the lesions of infected WWBs and identified a novel virus exhibiting properties of both the Papillomaviridae and Polyomaviridae family. They have designated this new prototype the bandicoot papillomatosis carcinomatosis virus type 1 (BPCV1).
"BPCV1 may represent the first member of a novel virus family, descended from a common ancestor of the papillomaviruses and polyomaviruses recognized today," say the researchers. "The discovery of the virus could have implications for the current taxonomic classification of Papillomaviridae and Polyomaviridae and can provide further insight into the evolution of these ancient virus families."
Journal reference: L. Woolford, A. Rector, M.V. Ranst, A. Ducki, M.D. Bennett, P.K. Nicholls, K.S. Warren, R.A. Swan, G.E. Wilcox, A.J. O'Hara. 2007. A novel virus detected in papillomavirus and carcinomas of the endangered western barred bandicoot (Perameles bougainville) exhibits genomic features of both the Papillomaviridae and Polyomaviridae. Journal of Virology, 81. 24: 13280-13290.)
Materials provided by American Society for Microbiology. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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