Molecular dating in the evolution of vertebrate poxviruses.
The goal of this work was to study the evolutionary history of the vertebrate poxviruses using the Bayesian relaxed clock and a large set of highly conserved vitally important viral genes. Phylogenetic analysis was performed by the maximum likelihood method using the Paup program. The dating method of Bayes, realized in the Multidivtime, was made. The rate of poxviral evolution is estimated as 0.5-7 × 10(-6) nucleotide substitutions per site per year. We inferred that the modern viruses of the genus Avipoxvirus diverged from the ancestor nearly 249 ± 69 thousand years ago (Tya). The progenitor of the genus Orthopoxvirus separated approximately 166 ± 43 Tya. The separation of the forebear of the genus Leporipoxvirus took place about 137 ± 35 Tya. The next to diverge was the ancestor of the genus Yatapoxvirus. The progenitor of Capripoxvirus and Suipoxvirus diverged 111 ± 29 Tya. The evolutionary analysis based on the historical data and utilizing the Bayesian relaxed clock allowed us to determine the molecular evolution rates of the AT-rich genomes of the vertebrate poxviruses and assess the times of their emergences. Involvement of a large set of the conserved genes controlled by stabilizing selection allowed us to perform molecular dating of the vertebrate poxvirus history. Copyright © 2011 S. Karger AG, Basel.