Phylogenetic assessment of filoviruses: how many lineages of Marburg virus?


  • Funded in part by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (R01 TW 8859-3).


A. Townsend Peterson, Biodiversity Institute, The University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045. Tel: +1-785-864-3926; Fax: +1-785-864-5335; E-mail:


Filoviruses have to date been considered as consisting of one diverse genus (Ebola viruses) and one undifferentiated genus (Marburg virus). We reconsider this idea by means of detailed phylogenetic analyses of sequence data available for the Filoviridae: using coalescent simulations, we ascertain that two Marburg isolates (termed the “RAVN” strain) represent a quite-distinct lineage that should be considered in studies of biogeography and host associations, and may merit recognition at the level of species. In contrast, filovirus isolates recently obtained from bat tissues are not distinct from previously known strains, and should be considered as drawn from the same population. Implications for understanding the transmission geography and host associations of these viruses are discussed.