Repository logo

Merida virus, a putative novel rhabdovirus discovered in Culex and Ochlerotatus spp. mosquitoes in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.

Change log


Charles, Jermilia 
Firth, Andrew E 
Loroño-Pino, Maria A 
Garcia-Rejon, Julian E 
Farfan-Ale, Jose A 


Sequences corresponding to a putative, novel rhabdovirus [designated Merida virus (MERDV)] were initially detected in a pool of Culex quinquefasciatus collected in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. The entire genome was sequenced, revealing 11 798 nt and five major ORFs, which encode the nucleoprotein (N), phosphoprotein (P), matrix protein (M), glycoprotein (G) and RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (L). The deduced amino acid sequences of the N, G and L proteins have no more than 24, 38 and 43 % identity, respectively, to the corresponding sequences of all other known rhabdoviruses, whereas those of the P and M proteins have no significant identity with any sequences in GenBank and their identity is only suggested based on their genome position. Using specific reverse transcription-PCR assays established from the genome sequence, 27 571 C. quinquefasciatus which had been sorted in 728 pools were screened to assess the prevalence of MERDV in nature and 25 pools were found positive. The minimal infection rate (calculated as the number of positive mosquito pools per 1000 mosquitoes tested) was 0.9, and similar for both females and males. Screening another 140 pools of 5484 mosquitoes belonging to four other genera identified positive pools of Ochlerotatus spp. mosquitoes, indicating that the host range is not restricted to C. quinquefasciatus. Attempts to isolate MERDV in C6/36 and Vero cells were unsuccessful. In summary, we provide evidence that a previously undescribed rhabdovirus occurs in mosquitoes in Mexico.



Aedes, Animals, Anopheles, Base Sequence, Chlorocebus aethiops, Culex, Female, Genome Size, Genome, Viral, High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing, Host Specificity, Insect Vectors, Male, Mexico, Molecular Sequence Data, Ochlerotatus, Phylogeny, RNA, Viral, Rhabdoviridae, Vero Cells, Viral Proteins

Journal Title

J Gen Virol

Conference Name

Journal ISSN


Volume Title



Microbiology Society
Wellcome Trust (106207/Z/14/Z)
The authors thank Valeria Bussetti for expert technical assistance. This study was supported by the National Institutes of Health (awards 5R21AI067281, AI057158, 5R21AI067281 and AI088647), the United States Department of Defense and an intramural grant from Iowa State University. AEF is supported by a grant from the Wellcome Trust (award 106207).