Epidemiological studies have suggested that consumption of beef may correlate with an increased risk of colorectal cancer. One hypothesis to explain this proposed link might be the presence of a carcinogenic infectious agent capable of withstanding cooking. Polyomaviruses are a ubiquitous family of thermostable non-enveloped DNA viruses that are known to be carcinogenic. Using virion enrichment, rolling circle amplification (RCA) and next-generation sequencing, we searched for polyomaviruses in meat samples purchased from several supermarkets. Ground beef samples were found to contain three polyomavirus species. One species, bovine polyomavirus 1 (BoPyV1), was originally discovered as a contaminant in laboratory FCS. A previously unknown species, BoPyV2, occupies the same clade as human Merkel cell polyomavirus and raccoon polyomavirus, both of which are carcinogenic in their native hosts. A third species, BoPyV3, is related to human polyomaviruses 6 and 7. Examples of additional DNA virus families, including herpesviruses, adenoviruses, circoviruses and gyroviruses were also detected either in ground beef samples or in comparison samples of ground pork and ground chicken. The results suggest that the virion enrichment/RCA approach is suitable for random detection of essentially any DNA virus with a detergent-stable capsid. It will be important for future studies to address the possibility that animal viruses commonly found in food might be associated with disease.
Journal: The Journal of general virology