First Coronavirus active survey in rodents from the canary Islands.
Since the beginning of the 21st century five new coronaviruses inducing respiratory diseases in humans have been reported. These emergences has promoted research on coronaviruses in wildlife. We started the first eco-epidemiological study to screen the presence of coronaviruses circulating in mice and rats of four Canary Islands. Between 2015 and 2019, we obtained fecal samples of three rodent species (150 Mus musculus, 109 Rattus rattus and 1 Rattus norvegicus) captured in urban and rural areas. Fecal samples were analyzed by nRT-PCR and the resulting sequences were compared to known diversity using Bayesian phylogenetic methods. We only found coronavirus RNA in house mice from El Hierro (10.53%), Tenerife (7.02%) and Lanzarote (5.26%) islands. All coronaviruses detected belong to the species Murine coronavirus belonging to the genus Betacoronavirus and subgenus Embecovirus, being all positive house mice captured in anthropogenic environment. The phylogenetic analysis shows that murine coronaviruses from the Canary Islands are related to European murine coronaviruses. Albeit data are still scarce in the region, the most probable origin of M. coronavirus present in the Canary Islands is continental Europe. According to temporal Bayesian phylogenetics, the differentiation between Canary and continental viruses seems to be quite recent. Moreover, murine coronaviruses from El Hierro, Tenerife and Lanzarote islands tend to segregate in different clades. This enlightens the potential role of rodents or other possibly invasive species in disseminating infectious diseases to remote places through exchanges with the continent. It is important to consider these aspects in the sanitary control of islands, for health and biodiversity preservation concerns.