Gammaretroviruses infect a wide range of vertebrate species where they are associated with leukemias, neurological diseases and immunodeficiencies. However, the origin of these infectious agents is unknown. Through a phylogenetic analysis of viral gene sequences, we show that bats harbor an especially diverse set of gammaretroviruses. In particular, phylogenetic analysis places Rhinolophus ferrumequinum retrovirus (RfRV), a new gammaretrovirus identified by de novo analysis of the Rhinolophus ferrumequinum transcriptome, and six other gammaretroviruses from different bat species, as basal to other mammalian gammaretroviruses. An analysis of the similarity in the phylogenetic history between the gammaretroviruses and their bat hosts provided evidence for both host-virus codivergence and cross-species transmission. Taken together, these data provide new insights into the origin of the mammalian gammaretroviruses.
Cui, J., Tachedjian, M., Wang, L., Tachedjian, G., Wang, L-F., & Zhang, S. (2012). Discovery of retroviral homologs in bats: implications for the origin of mammalian gammaretroviruses. Journal of Virology, 86(8), 4288 - 4293. https://doi.org/10.1128/JVI.06624-11