Avian influenza viruses in wild birds: virus evolution in a multi-host ecosystem.

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Authors: Venkatesh D, Poen MJ, Bestebroer TM, Scheuer RD, Vuong O, Chkhaidze M, Machablishvili A, Mamuchadze J, Ninua L, Fedorova NB, Halpin RA, Lin X, Ransier A, Stockwell TB, Wentworth DE, Kriti D, Dutta J, van Bakel H, Puranik A, Slomka MJ, Essen S, Brown IH, Fouchier RAM, Lewis NS
Title: Avian influenza viruses in wild birds: virus evolution in a multi-host ecosystem.
Citation: Journal of virology. 2018-05-16; .: .
Wild ducks and gulls are the major reservoirs for avian influenza A viruses (AIVs). The mechanisms that drive AIV evolution are complex at sites where various duck and gull species from multiple flyways breed, winter or stage. The Republic of Georgia is located at the intersection of three migratory flyways: Central Asian Flyway, East Asian/East African Flyway and Black Sea/Mediterranean Flyway. For six consecutive years (2010-2016), we collected AIV samples from various duck and gull species that breed, migrate and overwinter in Georgia. We found substantial subtype diversity of viruses that varied in prevalence from year to year. Low pathogenic (LP)AIV subtypes included H1N1, H2N3, H2N5, H2N7, H3N8, H4N2, H6N2, H7N3, H7N7, H9N1, H9N3, H10N4, H10N7, H11N1, H13N2, H13N6, H13N8, H16N3, plus two H5N5 and H5N8 highly pathogenic (HP)AIVs belonging to clade Whole genome phylogenetic trees showed significant host species lineage restriction for nearly all gene segments and significant differences for LPAIVs among different host species in observed reassortment rates, as defined by quantification of phylogenetic incongruence, and in nucleotide diversity. Hemagglutinin clade H5N8 viruses, circulated in Eurasia during 2014-2015 did not reassort, but analysis after its subsequent dissemination during 2016-2017 revealed reassortment in all gene segments except NP and NS. Some virus lineages appeared to be unrelated to AIVs in wild bird populations in other regions with maintenance of local AIV viruses in Georgia, whereas other lineages showed considerable genetic inter-relationship with viruses circulating in other parts of Eurasia and Africa, despite relative under-sampling in the area.Waterbirds (e.g., gulls/ducks) are natural reservoirs of avian influenza viruses (AIVs) and have been shown to mediate dispersal of AIV at inter-continental scales during seasonal migration. The segmented genome of influenza viruses enables viral RNA from different lineages to mix or re-assort when two viruses infect the same host. Such reassortant viruses have been identified in most major human influenza pandemics and several poultry outbreaks. Despite their importance, we have only recently begun to understand AIV evolution and reassortment in their natural host reservoirs. This comprehensive study illustrates of AIV evolutionary dynamics within a multi-host ecosystem at a stop-over site where three major migratory flyways intersect. Our analysis of this ecosystem over a six-year period provides a snapshot of how these viruses are linked to global AIV populations. Understanding the evolution of AIVs in the natural host is imperative to both mitigating the risk of incursion into domestic poultry and potential risk to mammalian hosts including humans.
PMID: 29769347