Bunyaviruses in protozoa?

A Novel Bunyavirus-Like Virus of Trypanosomatid Protist Parasites

  1. Natalia S. Akopyantsa,
  2. Lon-Fye Lyea,
  3. Deborah E. Dobsona,
  4. Julius Lukešb,c,
  5. Stephen M. Beverleya


We report here the sequences for all three segments of a novel RNA virus (LepmorLBV1) from the insect trypanosomatid parasite Leptomonas moramango. This virus belongs to a newly discovered group of bunyavirus-like elements termed Leishbunyaviruses (LBV), the first discovered from protists related to arboviruses infecting humans.


OK, seriously interesting viruses – BECAUSE “…The L. moramango virus thus resembles a group of related viruses discovered recently in the closely related human parasite Leishmania”…which I will note, whose phylogenetic affinity to other higher eukaryotes is via a relationship to trypanonosomes, and then – Euglena??  Which is an alga….

Seriously: a bunya-like virus found in a protozoan whose closest affinity to other hosts of bunyaviruses is via algae??
This pushes the possible evolutionary origin of bunyaviruses faaaaaar back, to possibly a billion years or so, when fungi were separating from protists from algae…..
There is another option, however: I note the Leptomonas sp. is a parasite of insects. It is of course worth noting that the Leishmania and other related parasites infecting mammals are also all arthropod-vectored – which could imply an origin in arthropods.
Which makes good sense, considering these beasties date back less than 600 million years or so – which is still pretty good for a virus?!

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