Environmental changes have major effects on the health of marine animals, especially in critical life stages. Small changes in productivity around breeding sites can affect the body condition index in juvenile Humboldt penguins. El Niño events change the normal patterns of the Humboldt upwelling, and significantly reduce the productivity of the system at a larger scale, generating mortalities, especially on juveniles. The effects of infectious diseases on South American fur seals (SAFS, Arctophoca australis) and Humboldt penguins (HP, Spheniscus humboldti) have received limited study, and the effects of environmental conditions on viral diversity in these animals have not been previously investigated. Adenoviruses are found in diverse vertebrates, with strong host fidelity.1 Mastadenoviruses have only been found in mammalian hosts, and aviadenoviruses have only been found in birds.1 Currently, there is a poor understanding of greater adenoviral diversity and ecology. We screened a Chilean and a Peruvian breeding colony using nested pan-adenoviral primers.2 We evaluated differences on adenoviral diversity between an El Niño and a normal year in juveniles of SAFS. We identified 4 mastadenoviruses, 4 aviadenoviruses and a siadenovirus in SAFS. Concurrent investigation of adenoviruses in HP at the same Peruvian site revealed 3 mastadenoviruses, 2 aviadenoviruses, and 3 siadenoviruses on HP. One aviadenovirus was detected in both HP and SAFS, suggesting a host jump. All aviadenoviruses in SAFS were detected in pups during an El Niño suggesting that environmental conditions can expose or alter susceptibility to viruses other than the common virome of the species. This is the first report of aviadenoviruses in marine mammals and mastadenoviruses in birds, and suggests that further viral diversity studies in sites with high density mixed species populations are warranted.
The authors with to thank Dr. Gwen Jankowski, Dr. Matt Allender, Marco Cardeña, and Franco Garcia for their assistance with this project. Partial funding for sample collection was provided by the Chicago Zoological Society, the Chicago Board of Trade Endangered Species Fund, and the Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Center.
* Presenting author
1. Harrach B, Benkö M, Both GW, Brown M, Davison AJ, Echavarría M, Hess M, Jones MS, Kajon A, Lehmkuhl HD, Mautner V, Mittal SK, Wadell G. Family Adenoviridae. In: King A, Adams M, Carstens E, Lefkowitz E, eds. Virus Taxonomy: Ninth Report of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. New York: Elsevier; 2011:125–141.
2. Wellehan JF, Johnson AJ, Harrach B, Benkö M, Pessier AP, Johnson CM, Garner MM, Childress A, Jacobson ER. Detection and analysis of six lizard adenoviruses by consensus primer PCR provides further evidence of a reptilian origin for the atadenoviruses. Journal of Virology. 2004;78:13366–13369.