Virus Genes

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A novel Australian flying-fox retrovirus shares an evolutionary ancestor with Koala, Gibbon and Melomys gamma-retroviruses

  • L. McMichaelEmail author
  • C. Smith
  • A. Gordon
  • K. Agnihotri
  • J. Meers
  • J. Oakey


A novel gamma-retroviral sequence (7912 bp), inclusive of both partial 5′ and 3′ long terminal repeat regions, was identified from the brain of a black flying-fox (Pteropus alecto), Queensland, Australia. The sequence was distinct from other retroviral sequences identified in bats and showed greater identity to Koala, Gibbon ape leukaemia, Melomys burtoni and Woolly monkey retroviruses, forming their own phylogenetic clade. This finding suggests that these retroviruses may have an unknown common ancestor and that further investigation into the diversity of gamma-retroviruses in Australian Pteropus species may elucidate their evolutionary origins.


Ancestor Evolution Flying-fox Koala Melomys burtoni Pteropus Retrovirus 



The authors would like to thank Dr. Gavin Wilkie, Ali Hoeger and the management and staff of the Biosecurity Sciences Laboratory for technical assistance and their generous support; Dr. Gregory Simmons for discussions; and Dr. Janine Barrett and Dr. Darren Underwood for reviewing the manuscript. The project was funded by Biosecurity Queensland, the University of Queensland and Wildlife Health Australia.

Author contributions

All authors have reviewed the final version of the manuscript and approved it for publication. Conceived of or designed the study: LM, CS, AG, KA, JM; performed research: LM, CS; analysed data: LM, CS, JO; wrote/reviewed the paper: LM, CS, AG, KA, JM, JO.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

All authors have reviewed the final version of the manuscript and approve it for publication.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. McMichael
    • 1
    Email author
  • C. Smith
    • 2
  • A. Gordon
    • 2
  • K. Agnihotri
    • 2
  • J. Meers
    • 1
  • J. Oakey
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Veterinary ScienceUniversity of QueenslandGattonAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Health and Food Science PrecinctBiosecurity Sciences Laboratory, Biosecurity QueenslandCoopers PlainsAustralia

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