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Novel herpesviruses in neotropical bats and their relationship with other members of the Herpesviridae family

Abstract : In the past decade, a large number of studies have detected herpesvirus sequences from many bat species around the world. Nevertheless, the discovery of bat herpesviruses is geographically uneven. Of the various bat species tested to date, only a few were from the New World. Seeking to investigate the distribution and diversity of herpesviruses circulating in neotropical bats, we carried out molecular screening of 195 blood DNA samples from 11 species of three bat families (Phyllostomidae, Mormoopidae, and Molossidae). Using polymerase chain reaction amplification, with degenerate consensus primers targeting highly conserved amino acid motifs of the herpesvirus DNA polymerase and Glycoprotein B genes, we characterized novel viral sequences from all tested species. BLAST searches, pairwise nucleotide and amino acid sequence comparisons, as well as phylogenetic analyses confirmed that they all belonged to the Herpesviridae family, of the Beta- and Gammaherpesvirinae subfamilies. Fourteen partial DNA polymerase gene sequences, of which three beta- and 11 gamma-herpesviruses, were detected. A total of 12 partial Glycoprotein B gene sequences, all gamma-herpesviruses, were characterized. Every sequence was specific to a bat species and in some species (Desmodus rotundus, Carollia perspicillata, and Pteronotus rubiginosus) multiple viruses were found. Phylogenetic analyses of beta- and gammaherpesvirus sequences led to the identification of bat-specific clades. Those composed of sequences obtained from different bat species belonging to distinct subfamilies follow the taxonomy of bats. This study confirms the astonishing diversity of bat herpesviruses and broadens our knowledge of their host range. Nevertheless, it also emphasizes the fact that, to better appreciate the evolutionary history of these viruses, much remains to be done at various taxonomic levels.
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Samantha James, Damien Donato, Benoit de Thoisy, Anne Lavergne, Vincent Lacoste. Novel herpesviruses in neotropical bats and their relationship with other members of the Herpesviridae family. Infection, Genetics and Evolution, Elsevier, In press, pp.104367. ⟨10.1016/j.meegid.2020.104367⟩. ⟨pasteur-02617410⟩

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