A is the type species of the genus
Aquamavirus. Seal aquamavirus A1
(formerly seal picornavirus 1) is currently the only
member of the species.
In 1988, during the seal plaque epidemic in the North
Sea (caused by phocine distemper virus), a picorna-like virus was
isolated from harbour (common) seals (Phoca vitulina)(Osterhaus,
1988). The virus was found in the lungs of 20 of 22 seals investigated (Osterhaus,
1988). The 3'
end of the genome was amplified using a pan-picornavirus RT-PCR and its
nucleotide sequence determined (454 nt) (Knowles, 2005). Comparison with
all picornavirus sequence known at the time suggested that it belonged
to a novel genus.
01/10/2007: The complete genome of "seal picornavirus type 1"
HO.02.21), isolated from Arctic ringed seals (Pusa hispida) in Canada,
was released on GenBank (EU142040;
Kapoor et al., 2008).
Comparison of the sequences obtained by Knowles (2005) and Kapoor et
al. (2008) shows a nucleotide identity of 87.7% and an
amino acid identity (of the available 3Dpol
region) of 95.7%.
Subsequently, Knowles and Wadsworth (2010) determined
the complete genome sequence of the harbour seal
picornavirus. The two viruses shared 84% and 92.3% nt
identity in their 5’ and 3’ UTR’s, respectively. Their
regions shared 87.2% nt and 98.6% amino acid (aa)
identity while their VP1 regions shared 81.2% nt and
99.6% aa identity. This suggests that, not only do both
seal picornaviruses belong to the same virus species,
but also to the same antigenic type. The harbour seal’s
range is limited to temperate and Arctic marine
coastlines of the Northern hemisphere. They are found in
coastal waters of the northern Atlantic and Pacific
Oceans as well as those of the Baltic and North Seas,
making them the most wide-ranging of the pinnipeds. The
range of ringed seal’s is throughout the Arctic Ocean
including the Baltic Sea, the Bering Sea and the Hudson
Bay. The ranges of the two seal species overlap in the
costal waters of Scandinavia. The close relationship
between these two viruses suggests picornaviruses may
circulate between different seal species. The role of
picornaviruses in diseases of seals remains to be
determined as does the broadness of their host
Interestingly, both isolates of SePV-1 appear to possess two VPg's:
Figure: Predicted amino acid
sequences of the two putative VPg’s. Black background, conserved
residues between both viruses and both VPg’s. Grey background, conserved
residues between both viruses for each VPg.
This is the only picornavirus (apart from
foot-and-mouth disease virus
and the newly described
mosavirus) so far found which potentially has
multiple genome-linked proteins.
A picornavirus, which is most closely related to seal
aquamavirus 1 (SeAV-1), has been found in an Asian black
bear (Ursus thibetanus) (Wang et al.,
2018). The amino acid identity relationships between
bear aquamavirus 1 (BeAV-1) and SeAV-1 are 87% (P1), 75%
(P2) and 79% (P3), while the complete genome nucleotide
identity is 71.7% (Wang et al., 2018). These
figures suggest that BeAV-1 should belong to the species
Aquamavirus A, however, it has been suggested
by the authors that it might form a novel species within
the genus Aquamavirus (Wang et al.,
2018). Like seal aquamavirus 1, bear aquamavirus 1
appears to possess two VPg polypeptides.
Kapoor, A., Victoria, J., Simmonds, P., Wang, C., Shafer, R.W., Nims,
R., Nielsen, O. and Delwart, E. (2008). A highly divergent picornavirus
in a marine mammal. J. Virol. 82: 311-320.
Knowles, N.J. (2005). A
pan-picornavirus RT-PCR: identification of novel picornavirus species.
EUROPIC 2005: XIIIth Meeting of the European Study Group on the
Molecular Biology of Picornaviruses, Lunteren, The Netherlands, 23-29th
May 2005. Abstract A06.
Knowles, N.J. and Wadsworth, J. (2010). The complete genome sequence of
a picornavirus isolated from a harbour (common) seal (Phoca vitulina).
EUROPIC 2010: XVI Meeting of the European Study Group on the
Molecular Biology of Picornaviruses, St. Andrews, Scotland, 11-16
September 2010. Abstract H16, p. 148.
Osterhaus, A.D.M.E. (1988). Seal death. Nature, Lond. 334: 301-302.
Wang H, Zhang W, Yang S, Kong N, Yu H, Zheng H, Gao F,
Tong W, Li L, Wang X, Deng X, Delwart E, Shan T. Asian
black bear (Ursus thibetanus) picornavirus
related to seal aquamavirus A. Arch Virol. 2018 Dec 20.
doi: 10.1007/s00705-018-4101-6. [Epub ahead of print]
PubMed PMID: 30569277.