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From fish to frogs and beyond: Impact and host range of emergent ranaviruses
Ranaviruses are pathogens of ectothermic vertebrates, including amphibians. We reviewed patterns of host range and virulence of ranaviruses in the context of virus genotype and postulate that patterns reflect significant variation in the historical and current host range of three groups of Ranavirus: FV3-like, CMTV-like and ATV like ranaviruses. Our synthesis supports previous hypotheses about host range and jumps: FV3s are amphibian specialists, while ATVs are predominantly fish specialists that switched once to caudate amphibians. The most recent common ancestor of CMTV-like ranaviruses and FV3-like forms appears to have infected amphibians but CMTV-like ranaviruses may circulate in both amphibian and fish communities independently. While these hypotheses are speculative, we hope that ongoing efforts to describe ranavirus genetics, increased surveillance of host species and targeted experimental assays of susceptibility to infection and/or disease will facilitate better tests of the importance of hypothetical evolutionary drivers of ranavirus virulence and host range.