Field vole-associated Traemmersee hantavirus from Germany represents a novel hantavirus species
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Vole-associated hantaviruses occur in the Old and New World. Tula orthohantavirus (TULV) is widely distributed throughout the European continent in its reservoir, the common vole (Microtus arvalis), but the virus was also frequently detected in field voles (Microtus agrestis) and other vole species. TULV and common voles are absent from Great Britain. However, field voles there harbor Tatenale and Kielder hantaviruses. Here we screened 126 field voles and 13 common voles from Brandenburg, Germany, for hantavirus infections. One common vole and four field voles were anti-TULV antibody and/or TULV RNA positive. In one additional, seropositive field vole a novel hantavirus sequence was detected. The partial S and L segment nucleotide sequences were only 61.1% and 75.6% identical to sympatrically occurring TULV sequences, but showed highest similarity of approximately 80% to British Tatenale and Kielder hantaviruses. Subsequent determination of the entire nucleocapsid (N), glycoprotein (GPC), and RNA-dependent RNA polymerase encoding sequences and determination of the pairwise evolutionary distance (PED) value for the concatenated N and GPC amino acid sequences confirmed a novel orthohantavirus species, tentatively named Traemmersee orthohantavirus. The identification of this novel hantavirus in a field vole from eastern Germany underlines the necessity of a large-scale, broad geographical hantavirus screening of voles to understand evolutionary processes of virus–host associations and host switches.
KeywordsTula orthohantavirus Tatenale Hantavirus species Germany Field vole Microtus agrestis
The authors thank Wolfgang Michelsson, Joachim Schmelz, and Steffen Pauly for supporting the collection of voles, Dörte Kaufmann, Maysaa Dafalla, Stefan Fischer, Florian Binder, Robin Brandt, Patrick Slowikowski, Elisa Heuser and Lisa Schlupeck for dissection, and Patrick Wysocki for generating the map in Fig. 1.
RGU and GH designed the study. MW collected all voles. KJ performed all molecular and serological investigations including sequence determination and analyses and contributed to the generation of the N antigen of TULV strain Thuringia. MH performed RDP4 and SimPlot analyses. AS and RP contributed to the generation of both TULV N antigens. SD, RR, and GH supervised the sequence analyses. RR performed the PED determination. KJ, GH, and RGU wrote the manuscript draft. All authors contributed to the final version of the manuscript and approved it.
The generation of the novel TULV antigen was funded in part by the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) within the Environment Research Plan of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) (Grant No.3714 67 407 0). GH was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (31003A_176209).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
The collection of voles was performed by the local forestry institutions during the vole monitoring as part of their pest control measures.
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