Current state-of-the-art in the use of plants for the production of recombinant vaccines against infectious bursal disease virus.
Infectious bursal disease is a widely spread threatening contagious viral infection of chickens that induces major damages to the Bursa of Fabricius and leads to severe immunosuppression in young birds causing significant economic losses for poultry farming. The etiological agent is the infectious bursal disease virus (IBDV), a non-enveloped virus belonging the family of Birnaviridae. At present, the treatment against the spread of this virus is represented by vaccination schedules mainly based on inactivated or live-attenuated viruses. However, these conventional vaccines present several drawbacks such as insufficient protection against very virulent strains and the impossibility to differentiate vaccinated animals from infected ones. To overcome these limitations, in the last years, several studies have explored the potentiality of recombinant subunit vaccines to provide an effective protection against IBDV infection. In this review, we will give an overview of these novel types of vaccines with special emphasis on current state-of-the-art in the use of plants as "biofactories" (plant molecular farming). In fact, plants have been thoroughly and successfully characterized as heterologous expression systems for the production of recombinant proteins for different applications showing several advantages compared with traditional expression systems (Escherichia coli, yeasts and insect cells) such as absence of animal pathogens in the production process, improved product quality and safety, reduction of manufacturing costs, and simplified scale-up.