Huge trove of unknown viruses found in fish, frogs and reptiles

Huge trove of unknown viruses found in fish, frogs and reptiles

Analysis of more than 200 newly discovered RNA viruses confirms that they co-evolved with their vertebrate hosts over millions of years.

Giorgia Guglielmi

Viruses that infect amphibians, such as fire salamanders, reptiles and fishes are little studied compared to the ones that affect mammals and birds.Credit: Martin Gabriel/NPL

Researchers have discovered more than 200 previously unknown viruses in a category whose members cause illnesses such as influenza and haemorrhagic fevers. The scientists also traced the origins of these RNA viruses back hundreds of millions of years to when most modern animals started to appear.

The findings1, published online in Nature on 4 April, could help scientists to identify the RNA viruses that might infect people in the future, says Mya Breitbart, an environmental virologist at the University of South Florida in St Petersburg…