Punctuated evolution of myxoma virus: rapid and disjunct evolution of a recent viral lineage in Australia

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
P 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 break-down 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 non-synonymous 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 e...Continue Reading

Related Concepts

Biological Clocks
Biological Evolution
Myxoma virus
Recombination, Genetic
Stem Cells

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