Papillomaviruses are epitheliotropic viruses that have circular dsDNA genomes encapsidated in non-enveloped virions. They have been found to infect a variety of mammals, reptiles and birds, but so far they have not been found in amphibians. Using a next-generation sequencing de novo assembly contig-informed recovery, we cloned and Sanger sequenced the complete genome of a novel papillomavirus from the faecal matter of Adélie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) nesting on Ross Island, Antarctica. The genome had all the usual features of a papillomavirus and an E9 ORF encoding a protein of unknown function that is found in all avian papillomaviruses to date. This novel papillomavirus genome shared ~60 % pairwise identity with the genomes of the other three known avian papillomaviruses: Fringilla coelebs papillomavirus 1 (FcPV1), Francolinus leucoscepus papillomavirus 1 (FlPV1) and Psittacus erithacus papillomavirus 1. Pairwise identity analysis and phylogenetic analysis of the major capsid protein gene clearly indicated that it represents a novel species, which we named Pygoscelis adeliae papillomavirus 1 (PaCV1). No evidence of recombination was detected in the genome of PaCV1, but we did detect a recombinant region (119 nt) in the E6 gene of FlPV1 with the recombinant region being derived from ancestral FcPV1-like sequences. Previously only paramyxoviruses, orthomyxoviruses and avian pox viruses have been genetically identified in penguins; however, the majority of penguin viral identifications have been based on serology or histology. This is the first report, to our knowledge, of a papillomavirus associated with a penguin species.
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