Feb 8, 2019

Punctuated Evolution of Myxoma Virus: Rapid and Disjunct Evolution of a Recent Viral Lineage in Australia

Journal of Virology
Peter J KerrEdward C Holmes


Myxoma virus (MYXV) has been evolving in a novel host species-European rabbits-in Australia since 1950. Previous studies of viruses sampled from 1950 to 1999 revealed a remarkably clock-like evolutionary process across all Australian lineages of MYXV. Through an analysis of 49 newly generated MYXV genome sequences isolated in Australia between 2008 and 2017, we show that MYXV evolution in Australia can be characterized by three lineages, one of which exhibited a greatly elevated rate of evolutionary change and a dramatic breakdown of temporal structure. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that this apparently punctuated evolutionary event occurred between 1996 and 2012. The branch leading to the rapidly evolving lineage contained a relatively high number of nonsynonymous substitutions, and viruses in this lineage reversed a mutation found in the progenitor standard laboratory strain (SLS) and all previous sequences that disrupts the reading frame of the M005L/R gene. Analysis of genes encoding proteins involved in DNA synthesis or RNA transcription did not reveal any mutations likely to cause rapid evolution. Although there was some evidence for recombination across the MYXV phylogeny, this was not associated with the increase in th...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Temporal Region
Transcription, Genetic
Recombination, Genetic
Phylogenetic Analysis

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