Genome sequence of viruses can contribute greatly to the study of viral evolution, diversity and the interaction between viruses and hosts. Traditional molecular cloning methods for obtaining RNA viral genomes are time-consuming and often difficult because many viruses occur in extremely low titers. DsRNA viruses in the families, Partitiviridae, Totiviridae, Endornaviridae, Chrysoviridae, and other related unclassified dsRNA viruses are generally associated with symptomless or persistent infections of their hosts. These characteristics indicate that samples or materials derived from eukaryotic organisms used to construct cDNA libraries and EST sequencing might carry these viruses, which were not easily detected by the researchers. Therefore, the EST databases may include numerous unknown viral sequences. In this study, we performed in silico cloning, a procedure for obtaining full or partial cDNA sequence of a gene by bioinformatics analysis, using known dsRNA viral sequences as queries to search against NCBI Expressed Sequence Tag (EST) database. From this analysis, we obtained 119 novel virus-like sequences related to members of the families, Endornaviridae, Chrysoviridae, Partitiviridae, and Totiviridae. Many of them were identified in cDNA libraries of eukaryotic lineages, which were not known to be hosts for these viruses. Furthermore, comprehensive phylogenetic analysis of these newly discovered virus-like sequences with known dsRNA viruses revealed that these dsRNA viruses may have co-evolved with respective host supergroups over a long evolutionary time while potential horizontal transmissions of viruses between different host supergroups also is possible. We also found that some of the plant partitiviruses may have originated from fungal viruses by horizontal transmissions. These findings extend our knowledge of the diversity and possible host range of dsRNA viruses and offer insight into the origin and evolution of relevant viruses with their hosts.

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Published in PLoS ONE, v. 7, no. 7, e42147.

© Liu et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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