Viruses associated with Antarctic wildlife: From serology based detection to identification of genomes using high throughput sequencing

Zoe E. Smeele, David G. Ainley, Arvind Varsani

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

11 Scopus citations


The Antarctic, sub-Antarctic islands and surrounding sea-ice provide a unique environment for the existence of organisms. Nonetheless, birds and seals of a variety of species inhabit them, particularly during their breeding seasons. Early research on Antarctic wildlife health, using serology-based assays, showed exposure to viruses in the families Birnaviridae, Flaviviridae, Herpesviridae, Orthomyxoviridae and Paramyxoviridae circulating in seals (Phocidae), penguins (Spheniscidae), petrels (Procellariidae) and skuas (Stercorariidae). It is only during the last decade or so that polymerase chain reaction-based assays have been used to characterize viruses associated with Antarctic animals. Furthermore, it is only during the last five years that full/whole genomes of viruses (adenoviruses, anelloviruses, orthomyxoviruses, a papillomavirus, paramyoviruses, polyomaviruses and a togavirus) have been sequenced using Sanger sequencing or high throughput sequencing (HTS) approaches. This review summaries the knowledge of animal Antarctic virology and discusses potential future directions with the advent of HTS in virus discovery and ecology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-105
Number of pages15
JournalVirus research
StatePublished - Jan 2 2018



  • Antarctica
  • Penguin
  • Petrel
  • Seal
  • Sharp spined notothen
  • Wildlife disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases

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