Hepatitis delta virus (HDV) is currently only found in humans and is a satellite virus that depends on hepatitis B virus (HBV) envelope proteins for assembly, release, and entry. Using meta-transcriptomics, we identified the genome of a novel HDV-like agent in ducks. Sequence analysis revealed secondary structures that were shared with HDV, including self-complementarity and ribozyme features. The predicted viral protein shares 32% amino acid similarity to the small delta antigen of HDV and comprises a divergent phylogenetic lineage. The discovery of an avian HDV-like agent has important implications for the understanding of the origins of HDV and sub-viral agents.
Keywords: co-evolution; dabbling duck; hepatitis D virus; phylogeny.