Marine origin of retroviruses in the early Palaeozoic Era

Very little is known about the ancient origin of retroviruses, but owing to the discovery of their ancient endogenous viral counterparts, their early history is beginning to unfold. Here we report 36 lineages of basal amphibian and fish foamy-like endogenous retroviruses (FLERVs). Phylogenetic analyses reveal that ray-finned fish FLERVs exhibit an overall co-speciation pattern with their hosts, while amphibian FLERVs might not. We also observe several possible ancient viral cross-class transmissions, involving lobe-finned fish, shark and frog FLERVs.

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