Marine Science Faculty Publications

Metagenomic Identification of a Novel Anellovirus in Pacific Harbor Seal (Phoca vitulina richardsii) Lung Samples and its Detection in Samples from Multiple Years

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To investigate viral pathogens potentially involved in a mortality event of 21 Pacific harbor seals (Phoca vitulina richardsii) in California in 2000, viral metagenomics was performed directly on lung samples from five individuals. Metagenomics revealed a novel seal anellovirus (SealAV), which clusters phylogenetically with anelloviruses from California sea lions and domestic cats. Using specific PCR, SealAV was identified in lung tissue from two of five animals involved in the 2000 mortality event, as well as one of 20 harbor seal samples examined post-mortem in 2008. The identification of SealAV in multiple years demonstrates that this virus is persistent in the harbor seal population. SealAV is the second anellovirus reported in the lungs of pinnipeds, suggesting that anellovirus infections may be common amongst marine mammals and that more research is needed to understand the roles of these viruses in marine mammal health and disease.

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Journal of General Virology, v. 92, issue 6, p. 1318-1323