All amniotes are probably infected by specific papillomaviruses (PVs), but knowledge about PV diversity remains sparse. An insufficient taxon sampling, and a focus on humans as hosts, may perturb phylogenetic analyses leading to wrong conclusions about PV evolution. We performed a systematic approach to explore the diversity of PVs combining rolling circle amplification with the use of "universal" primers to search for the presence of novel PV sequences in animal samples. We communicate 12 sequences putatively corresponding to novel PVs gained from 10 host species in eight mammal families: Bovidae, Canidae, Cervidae, Equidae, Hominidae, Phocoenidae, Procyonidae and Pteropodidae. The phylogenetic position of the new sequences was inferred with an evolutionary placement algorithm under a Maximum Likelihood framework using a pre-computed, well-resolved tree constructed with the E1-E2-L1 gene sequences as a backbone. The new sequences were phylogenetically diverse and could be respectively placed with confidence within all four PV crown groups. The prevailing presence of sequences from the crown groups Alpha+Omikron-PVs and Beta+Xi-PVs may correspond to an increased viral diversity in these taxa, or rather reflect a combination of anthropocentric bias and preferential amplification from commonly used "universal" primers. Our results combined with literature data support the view that the number and diversity of animal PVs is overwhelmingly large.
Type of Publication:
Journal article published