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Australia as a global sink for the genetic diversity of avian influenza A virus

Wille, M., Grillo, V., Ban de Gouvea Pedroso, S., Burgess, G. W., Crawley, A., Dickason, C., Hansbro, P. M., Hoque, M. A., Horwood, P. F., Kirkland, P. D., Kung, N. Y.-H., Lynch, S. E., Martin, S., McArthur, M., O’Riley, K., Read, A. J., Warner, S., Hoye, B. J., Lisovski, S., Leen, T., Hurt, A. C., Butler, J., Broz, I., Davies, K. R., Mileto, P., Neave, M., Stevens, V., Breed, A., Lam, T. T. Y., Holmes, E. C., Klaassen, M. and Wong, F. Y. K. (2021) Australia as a global sink for the genetic diversity of avian influenza A virus. bioRxiv . 2021.11.30.470533.

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Article Link(s): https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.11.30.470533

Publisher URL: http://biorxiv.org/content/early/2021/12/01/2021.11.30.470533.abstract

Abstract

Most of our understanding of the ecology and evolution of avian influenza A virus (AIV) in wild birds is derived from studies conducted in the northern hemisphere on waterfowl, with a substantial bias towards dabbling ducks. However, relevant environmental conditions and patterns of avian migration and reproduction are substantially different in the southern hemisphere. Through the sequencing and analysis of 333 unique AIV genomes collected from wild birds collected over 15 years we show that Australia is a global sink for AIV diversity and not integrally linked with the Eurasian gene pool. Rather, AIV are infrequently introduced to Australia, followed by decades of isolated circulation and eventual extinction. The number of co-circulating viral lineages varies per subtype. AIV haemagglutinin (HA) subtypes that are rarely identified at duck-centric study sites (H8-12) had more detected introductions and contemporary co-circulating lineages in Australia. Combined with a lack of duck migration beyond the Australian-Papuan region, these findings suggest introductions by long-distance migratory shorebirds. In addition, we found no evidence of directional or consistent patterns in virus movement across the Australian continent. This feature corresponds to patterns of bird movement, whereby waterfowl have nomadic and erratic rainfall-dependant distributions rather than consistent intra-continental migratory routes. Finally, we detected high levels of virus gene segment reassortment, with a high diversity of AIV genome constellations across years and locations. These data, in addition to those from other studies in Africa and South America, clearly show that patterns of AIV dynamics in the Southern Hemisphere are distinct from those in the temperate north.Author Summary A result of the ever-growing poultry industry is a dramatic global increase in the incidence of high pathogenicity avian influenza virus outbreaks. In contrast, wild birds are believed to be the main reservoir for low pathogenic avian influenza A virus. Due to intensive research and surveillance of AIV in waterfowl in the Northern Hemisphere, we have a better understanding of AIV ecology and evolution in that region compared to the Southern Hemisphere, which are characterised by different patterns of avian migration and ecological conditions. We analysed 333 unique AIV genomes collected from wild birds in Australia to understand how Australia fits into global AIV dynamics and how viruses are maintained and dispersed within the continent of Australia. We show that the Southern Hemisphere experiences differing evolutionary dynamics to those seen in Northern Hemisphere with Australia representing a global sink for AIV.Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competing interest.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Biosecurity Queensland
Subjects:Science > Biology > Genetics
Animal culture > Poultry
Veterinary medicine > Veterinary virology
Veterinary medicine > Diseases of special classes of animals > Avian
Agriculture > By region or country > Australia
Deposited On:11 Jan 2022 05:05
Last Modified:11 Jan 2022 05:05

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