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J Virol. 2011 Aug;85(15):7496-503. doi: 10.1128/JVI.02450-10. Epub 2011 Jun 1.

Shared ancestry between a newfound mole-borne hantavirus and hantaviruses harbored by cricetid rodents.

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Department of Pediatrics and Tropical Medicine, John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813, USA.


Discovery of genetically distinct hantaviruses in multiple species of shrews (order Soricomorpha, family Soricidae) and moles (family Talpidae) contests the conventional view that rodents (order Rodentia, families Muridae and Cricetidae) are the principal reservoir hosts and suggests that the evolutionary history of hantaviruses is far more complex than previously hypothesized. We now report on Rockport virus (RKPV), a hantavirus identified in archival tissues of the eastern mole (Scalopus aquaticus) collected in Rockport, TX, in 1986. Pairwise comparison of the full-length S, M, and L genomic segments indicated moderately low sequence similarity between RKPV and other soricomorph-borne hantaviruses. Phylogenetic analyses, using maximum-likelihood and Bayesian methods, showed that RKPV shared a most recent common ancestor with cricetid-rodent-borne hantaviruses. Distributed widely across the eastern United States, the fossorial eastern mole is sympatric and syntopic with cricetid rodents known to harbor hantaviruses, raising the possibility of host-switching events in the distant past. Our findings warrant more-detailed investigations on the dynamics of spillover and cross-species transmission of present-day hantaviruses within communities of rodents and moles.

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