. Identification of the same polyomavirus species in different African horseshoe bat species is indicative of short-range host-switching events.

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Carr M, Gonzalez G, Sasaki M, Dool SE, Ito K, Ishii A, Hang'ombe BM, Mweene AS, Teeling EC, Hall WW, Orba Y, Sawa H
J Gen Virol. 2017; 98:2771-2785.

Polyomaviruses (PyVs) are considered to be highly host-specific in different mammalian species, with no well-supported evidence for host-switching events. We examined the species diversity and host specificity of PyVs in horseshoe bats ( spp.), a broadly distributed and highly speciose mammalian genus. We annotated six PyV genomes, comprising four new PyV species, based on pairwise identity within the large T antigen (LTAg) coding region. Phylogenetic comparisons revealed two instances of highly related PyV species, one in each of the  and  genera, present in different horseshoe bat host species ( and ), suggestive of short-range host-switching events. The two pairs of  PyVs in different horseshoe bat host species were 99.9 and 88.8 % identical with each other over their respective LTAg coding sequences and thus constitute the same virus species. To corroborate the species identification of the bat hosts, we analysed mitochondrial  and a large nuclear intron dataset derived from six independent and neutrally evolving loci for bat taxa of interest. Bayesian estimates of the ages of the most recent common ancestors suggested that the near-identical and more distantly related PyV species diverged approximately 9.1E4 (5E3–2.8E5) and 9.9E6 (4E6–18E6) years before the present, respectively, in contrast to the divergence times of the bat host species: 12.4E6 (10.4E6–15.4E6). Our findings provide evidence that short-range host-switching of PyVs is possible in horseshoe bats, suggesting that PyV transmission between closely related mammalian species can occur.