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Viral evolution -- research, Orthohantavirus


Orthohantaviruses are tightly linked to the ecology and evolutionary history of their mammalian hosts. We hypothesized that in regions with dramatic climate shifts throughout the Quaternary, orthohantavirus diversity and evolution are shaped by dynamic host responses to environmental change through processes such as host isolation, host switching, and reassortment. Jemez Springs virus (JMSV), an orthohantavirus harbored by the dusky shrew (Sorex monticola) and five close relatives distributed widely in western North America, was used to test this hypothesis. Total RNAs, extracted from liver or lung tissue from 164 shrews collected from western North America during 1983–2007, were analyzed for orthohantavirus RNA by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Phylogenies inferred from the L-, M-, and S-segment sequences of 30 JMSV strains were compared with host mitochondrial cytochrome b. Viral clades largely corresponded to host clades, which were primarily structured by geography and were consistent with hypothesized post-glacial expansion. Despite an overall congruence between host and viral gene phylogenies at deeper scales, phylogenetic signals were recovered that also suggested a complex pattern of host switching and at least one reassortment event in the evolutionary history of JMSV. A fundamental understanding of how orthohantaviruses respond to periods of host population expansion, contraction, and secondary host contact is the key to establishing a framework for both more comprehensive understanding of orthohantavirus evolutionary dynamics and broader insights into host–pathogen systems.


© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (

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