PloS one

Phylogeny and differentiation of reptilian and amphibian ranaviruses detected in Europe.

PMID 25706285


Ranaviruses in amphibians and fish are considered emerging pathogens and several isolates have been extensively characterized in different studies. Ranaviruses have also been detected in reptiles with increasing frequency, but the role of reptilian hosts is still unclear and only limited sequence data has been provided. In this study, we characterized a number of ranaviruses detected in wild and captive animals in Europe based on sequence data from six genomic regions (major capsid protein (MCP), DNA polymerase (DNApol), ribonucleoside diphosphate reductase alpha and beta subunit-like proteins (RNR-α and -β), viral homolog of the alpha subunit of eukaryotic initiation factor 2, eIF-2α (vIF-2α) genes and microsatellite region). A total of ten different isolates from reptiles (tortoises, lizards, and a snake) and four ranaviruses from amphibians (anurans, urodeles) were included in the study. Furthermore, the complete genome sequences of three reptilian isolates were determined and a new PCR for rapid classification of the different variants of the genomic arrangement was developed. All ranaviruses showed slight variations on the partial nucleotide sequences from the different genomic regions (92.6-100%). Some very similar isolates could be distinguished by the size of the band from the microsatellite region. Three of the lizard isolates had a truncated vIF-2α gene; the other ranaviruses had full-length genes. In the phylogenetic analyses of concatenated sequences from different genes (3223 nt/10287 aa), the reptilian ranaviruses were often more closely related to amphibian ranaviruses than to each other, and most clustered together with previously detected ranaviruses from the same geographic region of origin. Comparative analyses show that among the closely related amphibian-like ranaviruses (ALRVs) described to date, three recently split and independently evolving distinct genetic groups can be distinguished. These findings underline the wide host range of ranaviruses and the emergence of pathogen pollution via animal trade of ectothermic vertebrates.