Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Analysis of the evolution and transmission dynamics of the field MDV in China during the years 1995-2020, indicating the emergence of a unique cluster with the molecular characteristics of vv+ MDV that has become endemic in southern China.

Abstract

Marek's disease (MD) continues to threaten the sustainability of the world poultry industry. In this study, the sequences of the meq gene of 220 MDV strains isolated during the years 1964-2020 were analysed, including 50 from our group plus 170 isolates from the GenBank. Analyses, using phylogenetic trees, amino acid (aa)-mutation screening, evolutionary studies and transmission dynamics were all performed. All strains were divided into two clusters (Clusters 1 and 2), and Cluster 1 includes the mild strains, the vaccine strains and the foreign virulent strains, while Cluster 2 was dominated by the Chinese field strains. Our study identified that the Chinese field strains in Cluster 2 during the years 1995-2020 likely originated in the 1980s from abroad, and the estimated genetic diversity of these strains experienced two growth phases in the years 2005-2007.5 and 2015-2017. Viral phylogeography identified 3 major geographic provincial regions for the Chinese field strains of Cluster 2: the Northeastern Region (Jilin, Liaoning and Heilongjiang), the East-central Region (Henan, Shandong and Jiangsu) and the Southern Region (Guangxi, Guangdong and Yunnan). The spread of Northeastern strains to East-central chicken flocks and the further spread from Guangxi to Guangdong are strongly indicated. The emergence of the mutations A88T and Q93R together in the Southern strains during the years 2017-2020 with molecular characteristics of vv+ MDV were also found later than those in the Northern strains. Overall, the Chinese field strains in Cluster 2 in southern China in recent years have been rapidly evolving. Guangxi Province has become an epicentre for these viruses and the chicken flocks in the Southern region have been facing the adverse effects of the emerging vv+ MDV.