The southern plains woodrat (Neotoma micropus) is the principal host of Catarina virus in southern Texas and a natural host of other North American Tacaribe serocomplex viruses. The objectives of this study were to increase our knowledge of the genetic diversity among Tacaribe serocomplex viruses associated with N. micropus and to define better the natural host relationships of these viruses. Pairwise comparisons of complete glycoprotein precursor gene sequences and complete nucleocapsid protein gene sequences revealed a high level of genetic diversity among Tacaribe serocomplex viruses associated with N. micropus in western Oklahoma, southern New Mexico, and northern and southern Texas. Collectively, the results of Bayesian analyses of nucleotide sequences and pairwise comparisons of amino acid sequences confirmed that the arenaviruses associated with N. micropus in Oklahoma and New Mexico should be included in the Whitewater Arroyo species complex, and indicated that that the arenaviruses associated with N. micropus in northern Texas are strains of a novel arenaviral species - tentatively named "Middle Pease River virus". Together, the results of assays for arenavirus and assays for anti-arenavirus antibody in 54 southern plains woodrats and 325 other rodents captured at 2 localities suggested that the southern plains woodrat is the principal host of Middle Pease River virus in northern Texas.
- Neotoma micropus
- Tacaribe serocomplex