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J Gen Virol. 2012 Feb;93(Pt 2):223-34. doi: 10.1099/vir.0.036525-0. Epub 2011 Oct 19.

Molecular evolution of the insect-specific flaviviruses.

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Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, UK.


There has been an explosion in the discovery of 'insect-specific' flaviviruses and/or their related sequences in natural mosquito populations. Herein we review all 'insect-specific' flavivirus sequences currently available and conduct phylogenetic analyses of both the 'insect-specific' flaviviruses and available sequences of the entire genus Flavivirus. We show that there is no statistical support for virus-mosquito co-divergence, suggesting that the 'insect-specific' flaviviruses may have undergone multiple introductions with frequent host switching. We discuss potential implications for the evolution of vectoring within the family Flaviviridae. We also provide preliminary evidence for potential recombination events in the history of cell fusing agent virus. Finally, we consider priorities and guidelines for future research on 'insect-specific' flaviviruses, including the vast potential that exists for the study of biodiversity within a range of potential hosts and vectors, and its effect on the emergence and maintenance of the flaviviruses.

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