Simian immunodeficiency viruses (SIVs) have been shown to infect many Old World African primate species. Thus far, no work has been published on southern African primates. In this study we investigated the genetic diversity between SIV strains from Kenyan and South African vervets (Cercopithecus aethiops pygerythrus). We amplified and sequenced a 1113 bp region of the env gene. Phylogenetic analysis of these sequences showed that all strains clustered with members of the vervet subgroup of SIVagm. The SIVs from South African vervets differed by 7% from each other and by 8-14% from the Kenyan SIV strains, while the Kenyan SIV strains differed by 10-21% from SIVagm of other east African vervets. We also isolated and sequenced, for the first time, a SIV strain from a healthy chacma baboon (Papio ursinus), caught in South Africa. Phylogenetic analysis of the env region showed the virus to be closely related to the South African vervet SIV strains, while analysis of its pol region confirmed the virus to be a SIVagm variant.


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