Research Article:


A novel strain of cynomolgus macaque cytomegalovirus: implications for host-virus co-evolution

Justen Russell, Angie K. Marsh, David O. Willer, Aruna P. N. Ambagala, Misko Dzamba, Jacqueline K. Chan, Richard Pilon, Jocelyn Fournier, Michael Brudno, Joseph M. Antony, Paul Sandstrom, Ben J. Evans & Kelly S. MacDonald




BMC Genomics

Scientific Abstract


Cytomegaloviruses belong to a large, ancient, genus of DNA viruses comprised of a wide array of species-specific strains that occur in diverse array of hosts.


In this study we sequenced the ~217 Kb genome of a cytomegalovirus isolated from a Mauritius cynomolgus macaque, CyCMV Mauritius, and compared it to previously sequenced cytomegaloviruses from a cynomolgus macaque of Filipino origin (CyCMV Ottawa) and two from Indian rhesus macaques (RhCMV 180.92 and RhCMV 68–1).


Though more closely related to CyCMV Ottawa, CyCMV Mauritius is less genetically distant from both RhCMV strains than is CyCMV Ottawa. Several individual genes, including homologues of CMV genes RL11B, UL123UL83bUL84 and a homologue of mammalian COX-2, show a closer relationship between homologues of CyCMV Mauritius and the RhCMVs than between homologues of CyCMV Mauritius and CyCMV Ottawa. A broader phylogenetic analysis of 12 CMV strains from eight species recovers evolutionary relationships among viral strains that mirror those amongst the host species, further demonstrating co-evolution of host and virus.


Phylogenetic analyses of rhesus and cynomolgus macaque CMV genome sequences demonstrate co-speciation of the virus and host.

Lay Abstract

CMV is an old virus that co-evolved with its hosts: humans, macaque monkeys, and all mammals. Our lab collected two strains from crab eating macaques and compared their genetic sequences with the genetic sequence of other CMV viruses isolated by other labs.

Our comparison shows, as expected, that the viruses evolved with their host, and that viruses face their own evolutionary pressures.