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    Viral pathogens are being increasingly described in association with mass morbidity and mortality events in reptiles. However, our knowledge of reptile viruses remains limited. Herein, we describe the meta-transcriptomic investigation of a mass morbidity and mortality event in a colony of central bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps) in 2014. Severe, extensive proliferation of the respiratory epithelium was consistently found in affected dragons. Similar proliferative lung lesions were identified in bearded dragons from the same colony in 2020 in association with increased intermittent mortality. Total RNA sequencing identified two divergent DNA viruses: a reptile-infecting circovirus, denoted bearded dragon circovirus (BDCV), and the first exogeneous reptilian chaphamaparvovirus-bearded dragon chaphamaparvovirus (BDchPV). Phylogenetic analysis revealed that BDCV was most closely related to bat-associated circoviruses, exhibiting 70% amino acid sequence identity in the Replicase (Rep) protein. In contrast, in the nonstructural (NS) protein, the newly discovered BDchPV showed approximately 31%-35% identity to parvoviruses obtained from tilapia fish and crocodiles in China. Subsequent specific PCR assays revealed BDCV and BDchPV in both diseased and apparently normal captive reptiles, although only BDCV was found in those animals with proliferative pulmonary lesions and respiratory disease. This study expands our understanding of viral diversity in captive reptiles.

    Citation

    Wei-Shan Chang, Ci-Xiu Li, Jane Hall, John-Sebastian Eden, Timothy H Hyndman, Edward C Holmes, Karrie Rose. Meta-Transcriptomic Discovery of a Divergent Circovirus and a Chaphamaparvovirus in Captive Reptiles with Proliferative Respiratory Syndrome. Viruses. 2020 Sep 25;12(10)

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    PMID: 32992674

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