Discovery and characterization of novel papillomaviruses in Weddell seals around the Ross sea
Antarctica has become a rich area of research over the last few decades, and there has been a fair amount of research that has focused on the wildlife that inhabit this extreme environment. Within this ecosystem seals are high trophic level predators that provide important insight to the health of the environment. While our knowledge of the viruses circulating among Antarctic animals is limited, this is especially the case for Antarctic pinnipeds. This thesis highlights that our understanding
... our understanding of Antarctic animal virology is changing, albeit slowly. The application of metagenomics and development of high throughput sequencing has allowed for the discovery of novel viruses in this area, particularly around the Ross Sea and McMurdo Sound where research efforts have been concentrated. The aim of this research was to assess the diversity of papillomaviruses in vaginal swabs collected from 81 female Weddell Seals over the summer field seasons of 2014-2016. Using metagenomic approaches seven papillomavirus genomes were identified andrecovered from this sample set. These viruses were highly diverse with six representing novel species and distinct evolutionary lineages within the family Papillomaviridae. This discovery extends our knowledge of viruses circulating among Antarctic animals that inhabit McMurdo Sound and the Ross Sea, which may offer support for monitoring the health of this ecosystem especially under conditions of environmental change.