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Discovery and complete genome sequence of a novel circovirus-like virus in the endangered rowi kiwi, Apteryx rowi


Circoviruses are circular, non-enveloped, single-stranded DNA viruses around 2000 nucleotides (nt) in length and include the pathogenic species, Porcine circovirus 1 and Beak and feather disease virus, capable of causing significant morbidity and mortality. This group of viruses may be robust to degradation by external environments, and avian circoviruses are known to move between closely related hosts. Using a de novo metagenomic approach, followed by confirmatory PCR, we identify for the first time a circular Rep-encoding single-stranded (CRESS) DNA virus in New Zealand kiwi, Apteryx spp., derived from faecal matter of the rowi kiwi (A. rowi) showing signs of verminous dermatitis. The entire 2085 nt genome was cloned and sequenced and contains both capsid and replicase genes, as well as a conserved 9 nt motif. Phylogenetic analyses place it within Circoviridae, adjacent to other environmental CRESS-DNA viruses, and most closely related to badger circovirus-like virus (Meles meles circovirus-like virus). As the rowi is the most critically endangered kiwi, it is vital to understand the role of rowi kiwi circovirus-like virus as a possible pathogen and also any potential cross-species transmission.

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