Polyomaviruses are non-enveloped viruses with circular double-stranded DNA genomes (~4-7 kb). Initially identified in mammals, polyomaviruses have now been identified in birds and a few fish species. Although fragmentary polyomavirus-like sequences have been detected as apparent 'hitchhikers' in shotgun genomics datasets of various arthropods, the possible diversity of these viruses in invertebrates remains unclear. Scorpions are predatory arachnids that are among the oldest terrestrial animals. Using high-throughput sequencing and traditional molecular techniques we determine the genome sequences of eight novel polyomaviruses in scorpions (Centruroides sculpturatus) from the greater Phoenix area, Arizona, USA. Analysis of Centruroides transcriptomic datasets elucidated the splicing of the viral late gene array, which is more complex than that of vertebrate polyomaviruses. Phylogenetic analysis provides further evidence of co-divergence of polyomaviruses with their hosts, suggesting that at least one ancestral species of polyomaviruses was circulating amongst the primitive common ancestors of arthropods and chordates.
Keywords: Arachnida; Centruroides sculpturatus; Circular DNA virus; Polyomaviridae.
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