Red fox viromes across an urban-rural gradient

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
S. J. CampbellJemma L Geoghegan

Abstract

The Red fox (Vulpes vulpes) has established large populations in Australia's urban and rural areas since its introduction following European settlement. Foxes' cryptic and highly adaptable nature allows them to invade cities and live among humans while remaining largely unnoticed. Urban living and access to anthropogenic food resources also influences fox ecology. Urban foxes grow larger, live at higher densities and are more social than their rural counterparts. These ecological changes in urban red foxes are likely to impact the pathogens that they harbour, and foxes could pose a disease risk to humans and other species that share these urban spaces. To assess this possibility, we used a meta-transcriptomic approach to characterise the viromes of urban and rural foxes across the Greater Sydney region in Australia. Urban and rural foxes differed significantly in virome composition, with rural foxes harbouring a greater abundance of viruses compared to their urban counterparts. In contrast, urban fox viromes comprised a greater diversity of viruses compared to rural foxes. We identified nine potentially novel vertebrate-associated viruses in both urban and rural foxes, some of which are related to viruses associated with diseas...Continue Reading

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