[MARMAM] New publication on viruses in short-finned pilot whales and killer whales

Russell Fielding rfielding at coastal.edu
Sat Apr 24 10:20:53 PDT 2021

Dear MARMAM list members,

My coauthors and I are pleased to share our just-published paper, "Circular DNA viruses identified in short-finned pilot whale and orca tissue samples," which appears in the journal Virology. I'm just the geographer on the team but the lead virologist assures me that these viruses are not able to infect humans. Two corresponding authors are listed: myself for questions relating to the collection of tissue samples and the broader context of Caribbean whaling for food, and my colleague, Arvind Varsani, for questions related to the viruses and the methods used in their identification. Among the coauthors on this paper are faculty members, students (both graduate and undergraduate), post-doctoral researchers, and local community members where the fieldwork was conducted.

The paper's abstract is as follows:
Members of the Delphinidae family are widely distributed across the world's oceans. We used a viral metagenomic approach to identify viruses in orca (Orcinus orca) and short-finned pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus) muscle, kidney, and liver samples from deceased animals. From orca tissue samples (muscle, kidney, and liver), we identified a novel polyomavirus (Polyomaviridae), three cressdnaviruses, and two genomoviruses (Genomoviridae). In the short-finned pilot whale we were able to identify one genomovirus in a kidney sample. The presence of unclassified cressdnavirus within two samples (muscle and kidney) of the same animal supports the possibility these viruses might be widespread within the animal. The orca polyomavirus identified here is the first of its species and is not closely related to the only other dolphin polyomavirus previously discovered. The identification and verification of these viruses expands the current knowledge of viruses that are associated with the Delphinidae family.

The paper can be accessed here:

Russell Fielding


Russell Fielding, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

HTC Honors College

Coastal Carolina University

P.O. Box 261954
Conway, SC  29528-6054

rfielding at coastal.edu<mailto:rfielding at coastal.edu>

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