Viruses belonging to the Papillomaviridae family have been isolated from a variety of mammals, birds and non-avian reptiles. It is likely that most, if not all, amniotes carry a broad array of viral types. To date, the complete genomic sequence of more than 240 distinct viral types has been characterized at the nucleotide level. The analysis of this sequence information has begun to shed light on the evolutionary history of this important virus family. The available data suggests that many different evolutionary mechanisms have influenced the papillomavirus phylogenetic tree. Increasing evidence supports that the ancestral papillomavirus initially specialized to infect different ecological niches on the host. This episode of niche sorting was followed by extensive episodes of co-speciation with the host. This review attempts to summarize our current understanding of the papillomavirus evolution.
Keywords: Co-evolution; Codon usage; Evolution; Mutation rate; Niche adaptation; Papillomaviridae; Recombination.
Published by Elsevier Inc.