Polyomaviruses are a family of DNA tumor viruses that are known to infect mammals and birds. To investigate the deeper evolutionary history of the family, we used a combination of viral metagenomics, bioinformatics, and structural modeling approaches to identify and characterize polyomavirus sequences associated with fish and arthropods. Analyses drawing upon the divergent new sequences indicate that polyomaviruses have been gradually co-evolving with their animal hosts for at least half a billion years. Phylogenetic analyses of individual polyomavirus genes suggest that some modern polyomavirus species arose after ancient recombination events involving distantly related polyomavirus lineages. The improved evolutionary model provides a useful platform for developing a more accurate taxonomic classification system for the viral family Polyomaviridae.
Buck, C. B., Van Doorslaer, K., Peretti, A., Geoghegan, E. M., Tisza, M. J., An, P., … Varsani, A. (2016). The Ancient Evolutionary History of Polyomaviruses. PLoS Pathogens, 12(4). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1005574