Discovery of herpesviruses in Canadian wildlife
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Herpesviruses (HVs) have a wide range of hosts in the animal kingdom. The result of infection with HVs can vary from asymptomatic to fatal diseases depending on subtype, strain, and host. To date, little is known about HVs naturally circulating in wildlife species and the impact of these viruses on other species. In our study, we used genetic and comparative approaches to increase our understanding of circulating HVs in Canadian wildlife. Using nested polymerase chain reaction targeting a conserved region of the HV DNA polymerase gene, we analyzed material derived from wildlife of western and northern Canada collected between February 2009 and Sept 2014. For classification of new virus sequences, we compared our viral sequences with published sequences in GenBank to identify conserved residues and motifs that are unique to each subfamily, alongside phylogenetic analysis. All alphaherpesviruses shared a conserved tryptophan (W856) and tyrosine (Y880), betaherpesviruses all shared a serine (S836), and gammaherpesviruses had a conserved glutamic acid (E835). Most of our wildlife HV sequences grouped together with HVs from taxonomically related host species. From Martes americana, we detected previously uncharacterized alpha- and beta-herpesviruses.
We would like to thank the members of the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre and the pathology department at the University of Calgary Spy Hill Campus for their help and expertise in animal sample collection during necropsy. Caribou samples were collected through CARMA project; some marten samples were collected by the youth of the Sahtú region as part of an NSERC PromoScience outreach program. Finally, Alasdair Veitch, Ale Massolo, and Cynthia Kashivakura participated largely in this project.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
This study was funded by University Research Grants Committee (URGC) Seed Grant Program, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
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