Geographic dispersal and genetic diversity of tick-borne phleboviruses (Phenuiviridae, Phlebovirus) as revealed by the analysis of L segment sequences

Victor Pimentel, Rita Afonso, Mónica Nunes, Maria Luisa Vieira, Daniel Bravo-Barriga, Eva Frontera, Manuel Martinez, André Pereira, Carla Maia, Maria das Neves Paiva-Cardoso, Ferdinando Bernardino Freitas, Ana B. Abecasis, Ricardo Parreira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The large diversity of new tick-borne phleboviruses, and the negative impacts of the virulent viruses on human/animal health have led to a growing interest in their analysis. In this report, new insights are brought out into the diversity of putative phleboviruses circulating in Portugal (both the continental territory and the islands of São Miguel, in the Azores, and Madeira), as well as in the Spanish western regions of Extremadura and Castilla and León. Phlebovirus sequences were frequently detected (L-segment)from both questing and feeding ticks, but especially in Rhipicephalus sanguineus sensu lato (s.l.)specimens. These sequences were detected in adult ticks, as well as nymphs and eggs, supporting the hypothesis of viral maintenance by vertical transmission. Though multiple genetic groups could be identified in phylogenetic trees (AnLuc, KarMa, RiPar virus 1, and Spanish group 1 and 2), all the sequences from Portugal and Spain shared common ancestry with other viral sequence obtained from samples collected over a large geographic coverage. Spatiotemporal analysis placed Middle-East as the geographic origin of the most recent common ancestor (MRCA)of all phleboviruses analysed in the present study. More recent viral transitions might include migrations from Spain to continental Portugal, and from there to the Portuguese Islands. Our findings suggest that the time of the MRCA of phleboviruses was dated around 225 years ago [95% HPD: 124–387 year before the last sampling date].

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)942-948
Number of pages6
JournalTicks and Tick-borne Diseases
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • Europe
  • L-segment sequences
  • Phleboviruses
  • Phylogeography
  • Ticks


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