Unexpected Pathogen Diversity Detected in Australian Avifauna Highlights Potential Biosecurity Challenges

Kasimov, Vasilli, Wille, Michelle, Sarker, Subir, Dong, Yalun, Shao, Renfu, Hall, Clancy, Potvin, Dominique, Conroy, Gabriel, Valenza, Ludovica, Gillett, Amber, Timms, Peter, and Jelocnik, Martina (2023) Unexpected Pathogen Diversity Detected in Australian Avifauna Highlights Potential Biosecurity Challenges. Viruses, 15 (1). 143.

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Birds may act as hosts for numerous pathogens, including members of the family Chlamydiaceae, beak and feather disease virus (BFDV), avipoxviruses, Columbid alphaherpesvirus 1 (CoAHV1) and Psittacid alphaherpesvirus 1 (PsAHV1), all of which are a significant biosecurity concern in Australia. While Chlamydiaceae and BFDV have previously been detected in Australian avian taxa, the prevalence and host range of avipoxviruses, CoAHV1 and PsAHV1 in Australian birds remain undetermined. To better understand the occurrence of these pathogens, we screened 486 wild birds (kingfisher, parrot, pigeon and raptor species) presented to two wildlife hospitals between May 2019 and December 2021. Utilising various qPCR assays, we detected PsAHV1 for the first time in wild Australian birds (37/486; 7.61%), in addition to BFDV (163/468; 33.54%), Chlamydiaceae (98/468; 20.16%), avipoxviruses (46/486; 9.47%) and CoAHV1 (43/486; 8.85%). Phylogenetic analysis revealed that BFDV sequences detected from birds in this study cluster within two predominant superclades, infecting both psittacine and non-psittacine species. However, BFDV disease manifestation was only observed in psittacine species. All Avipoxvirus sequences clustered together and were identical to other global reference strains. Similarly, PsAHV1 sequences from this study were detected from a series of novel hosts (apart from psittacine species) and identical to sequences detected from Brazilian psittacine species, raising significant biosecurity concerns, particularly for endangered parrot recovery programs. Overall, these results highlight the high pathogen diversity in wild Australian birds, the ecology of these pathogens in potential natural reservoirs, and the spillover potential of these pathogens into novel host species in which these agents cause disease.

Item ID: 79797
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1999-4915
Keywords: Australia, avipoxvirus, beak and feather disease virus, biosecurity, birds, chlamydia, Columbid alphaherpesvirus 1, herpesvirus, Psittacid alphaherpesvirus 1, wildlife disease
Copyright Information: © 2023 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC DE190100238, ARC DE200100367, ARC DE200100977
Date Deposited: 17 Aug 2023 00:26
FoR Codes: 30 AGRICULTURAL, VETERINARY AND FOOD SCIENCES > 3009 Veterinary sciences > 300914 Veterinary virology @ 50%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3107 Microbiology > 310706 Virology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280101 Expanding knowledge in the agricultural, food and veterinary sciences @ 50%
28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280102 Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences @ 50%
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