Mountain lions (Puma concolor) throughout North and South America are infected with puma lentivirus clade B (PLVB). A second, highly divergent lentiviral clade, PLVA, infects mountain lions in southern California and Florida. Bobcats (Lynx rufus) in these two geographic regions are also infected with PLVA, and to date, this is the only strain of lentivirus identified in bobcats. We sequenced full-length PLV genomes in order to characterize the molecular evolution of PLV in bobcats and mountain lions. Low sequence homology (88% average pairwise identity) and frequent recombination (1 recombination breakpoint per 3 isolates analyzed) were observed in both clades. Viral proteins have markedly different patterns of evolution; sequence homology and negative selection were highest in Gag and Pol and lowest in Vif and Env. A total of 1.7% of sites across the PLV genome evolve under positive selection, indicating that host-imposed selection pressure is an important force shaping PLV evolution. PLVA strains are highly spatially structured, reflecting the population dynamics of their primary host, the bobcat. In contrast, the phylogeography of PLVB reflects the highly mobile mountain lion, with diverse PLVB isolates cocirculating in some areas and genetically related viruses being present in populations separated by thousands of kilometers. We conclude that PLVA and PLVB are two different viral species with distinct feline hosts and evolutionary histories.
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