Phylogenetic diversity of koala retrovirus within a wild koala population

Chappell, K. J., Brealey, J. C., Amarilla, A. A., Watterson, D., Hulse, L., Palmieri, C., Johnston, S. D., Holmes, E. C., Meers, J. and Young, P. (2016) Phylogenetic diversity of koala retrovirus within a wild koala population. Journal of Virology, 91 3: . doi:10.1128/JVI.01820-16

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Author Chappell, K. J.
Brealey, J. C.
Amarilla, A. A.
Watterson, D.
Hulse, L.
Palmieri, C.
Johnston, S. D.
Holmes, E. C.
Meers, J.
Young, P.
Title Phylogenetic diversity of koala retrovirus within a wild koala population
Journal name Journal of Virology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0022-538X
Publication date 2016-11-23
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1128/JVI.01820-16
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 91
Issue 3
Total pages 13
Place of publication Washington, DC, United States
Publisher American Society for Microbiology
Collection year 2017
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Koala populations are in serious decline across many areas of mainland Australia, with infectious disease a contributing factor. Koala Retrovirus (KoRV) is a gammaretrovirus present in most wild Koala populations and captive colonies. Five subtypes of KoRV have been identified (A-E) based on amino acid sequence divergence in a hyper-variable region of the receptor binding domain of the envelope protein. However, analysis of viral genetic diversity has primarily been conducted on KoRV in captive koalas housed in zoos in Japan, the United States of America and Germany. Wild koalas within Australia have not been comparably assessed. Here we report a detailed analysis of KoRV genetic diversity in samples collected from 18 wild koalas from south-east Queensland. By employing deep sequencing we identified 108 novel KoRV envelope sequences and determined their phylogenetic diversity. Genetic diversity in KoRV was abundant and fell into tree major groups; two comprised the previously identified subtypes A and B, while the third contained the remaining hyper-variable region subtypes (C, D and E) as well as four hyper-variable region subtypes that we newly define here (F, G, H and I). In addition to the ubiquitous presence of KoRV-A, which may represent an exclusively endogenous variant, subtypes B, D and F were found to be at high prevalence, while subtypes G, H and I were present in a smaller number of animals.

Importance: Koala retrovirus (KoRV) is thought to be a significant contributor to koala disease and population decline across mainland Australia. This study is the first to determine KoRV subtype prevalence among a wild koala population, and it significantly expands the total number of KoRV sequences available, providing a more precise picture of genetic diversity. This understanding of KoRV subtype prevalence and genetic diversity will be important for conservation efforts attempting to limit
the spread of KoRV. Furthermore, KoRV is one of the only retroviruses shown to exist in both endogenous (transmitted vertically to offspring in the germ line DNA) and exogenous (horizontally transmitted between infected individuals) forms, a division of fundamental evolutionary importance.
Keyword Koala
Koala retrovirus
Envelope protein
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

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Created: Sat, 03 Dec 2016, 09:17:19 EST by Associate Professor Stephen Johnston on behalf of School of Agriculture and Food Sciences