Monday, March 21, 2005

369: Ancient co-speciation of simian foamy viruses and primates

Ancient co-speciation of simian foamy viruses and primates:

Here we test the co-speciation hypothesis in SFVs and their primate hosts by comparing the phylogenies of SFV polymerase and mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit II from African and Asian monkeys and apes. The phylogenetic trees were remarkably congruent in both branching order and divergence times, strongly supporting co-speciation. Molecular clock calibrations revealed an extremely low rate of SFV evolution, 1.7 times 10-8 substitutions per site per year, making it the slowest-evolving RNA virus documented so far. These results indicate that SFVs might have co-speciated with Old World primates for at least 30 million years, making them the oldest known vertebrate RNA viruses.
This is a testable evolutionary hypothesis of the speciation in two different groups. Nothing else currently explains the congruence of the phylogenies of host and parasite.