Interspecies Papillomavirus Type Infection and a Novel Papillomavirus Type in Red Ruffed Lemurs (<i>Varecia rubra</i>).


The Papillomaviridae are a family of vertebrate-infecting viruses of oncogenic potential generally thought to be host species- and tissue-specific. Despite their phylogenetic relatedness to humans, there is a scarcity of data on papillomaviruses (PVs) in speciose non-human primate lineages, particularly the lemuriform primates. Varecia variegata (black-and-white ruffed lemurs) and Varecia rubra (red ruffed lemurs), two closely related species comprising the Varecia genus, are critically endangered with large global captive populations. Varecia variegata papillomavirus (VavPV) types -1 and -2, the first PVs in lemurs with a fully identified genome, were previously characterized from captive V. variegata saliva. To build upon this discovery, saliva samples were collected from captive V. rubra with the following aims: (1) to identify PVs shared between V. variegata and V. rubra and (2) to characterize novel PVs in V. rubra to better understand PV diversity in the lemuriform primates. Three complete PV genomes were determined from V. rubra samples. Two of these PV genomes share 98% L1 nucleotide identity with VavPV2, denoting interspecies infection of V. rubra by VavPV2. This work represents the first reported case of interspecies PV infection amongst the strepsirrhine primates. The third PV genome shares <68% L1 nucleotide identity with that of all PVs. Thus, it represents a new PV species and has been named Varecia rubra papillomavirus 1 (VarPV1). VavPV1, VavPV2, and VarPV1 form a new clade within the Papillomaviridae family, likely representing a novel genus. Future work diversifying sample collection (i.e., lemur host species from multiple genera, sample type, geographic location, and wild populations) is likely to uncover a world of diverse lemur PVs.





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Publication Info

Paietta, Elise N, Simona Kraberger, Melanie Regney, Joy M Custer, Erin Ehmke, Anne D Yoder and Arvind Varsani (2023). Interspecies Papillomavirus Type Infection and a Novel Papillomavirus Type in Red Ruffed Lemurs (Varecia rubra). Viruses, 16(1). p. 37. 10.3390/v16010037 Retrieved from

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Anne Daphne Yoder

Braxton Craven Distinguished Professor of Evolutionary Biology

My work integrates field inventory activities with molecular phylogenetic techniques and geospatial analysis to investigate Madagascar, an area of the world that is biologically complex, poorly understood, and urgently threatened. Madagascar has been designated as one of the most critical geographic priorities for conservation action, retaining less than 10% of the natural habitats that existed before human colonization. It is critical that information be obtained as quickly as possible to document the biota that occurs in the remaining and highly threatened forested areas of western Madagascar, to gain an understanding of the evolutionary processes and associated distributional patterns that have shaped this diversity, and to use this information to help set conservation priorities. Phylogenetic and biogeographic analysis of Malagasy vertebrates, each with unique life-history and dispersal characteristics, are conducted to identify areas of high endemism potentially associated with underlying geological features, and also to test for the role that geographic features have played in generating patterns of vertebrate diversity and distribution. My lab also has a significant focus on capacity-building through the education and training of both American and Malagasy students. Research opportunities for American graduate students are enhanced by the formation of Malagasy/American partnerships.

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