Predominance of Fourth Panzootic Newcastle Disease Virus Subgenotype VII.1.1 in Iran and Its Relation to the Genotypes Circulating in the Region

Molouki, Aidin; Sotani, Mohammad; Fallah Mehrabadi, Mohammad Hossein; Shoushtari, Abdelhamid; Abtin, Alireza; Mahmoudzadeh Akhijahani, Mohsen; Abdoshah, Mohammad; Pourbakhsh, Seyed Ali; Allahyari, Esameel; Ghalyanchilangeroudi, Arash; Engelsma, Marc; Lim, Swee Hua Erin


Following recent Newcastle disease virus (NDV) outbreaks in Iranian poultry farms which were mostly associated with lesions of the avian gastrointestinal tract, it was speculated that the scale of the outbreaks could be attributed in part to co-circulating infectious agents or a new NDV genotype/subgenotype. This speculation was due to the isolation of a few 5th panzootic subgenotype VII.2 viruses from Iranian poultry farms in 2017. Samples from different species of commercial and domestic birds were collected from different provinces of Iran, 19 of which were selected for the current study. Phylogenetic analyses showed that the recent outbreaks have been caused by only one agent, i.e. the distinctive NDV subgenotype VII.1.1 (previously known VIIl) viruses that seem to be circulating predominantly in Iran, but have also been sporadically reported from Iraq among neighbouring countries. At most, 96.3–96.7% BLAST identity to non-Iranian VII.1.1 isolates was observed. Genetic distance values of <1% were indicative of high similarity between the isolates, but the values were approaximately 2% when the current isolates were compared to the earliest recorded Iranian VII.1.1 viruses isolated in 2010. Using Bayesian analysis, annual mutation rates of 1.7156E-3 (strict) and 1.9902E-3 (relaxed) over 11 years were obtained. In addition, we report that our laboratories have not detected any genotype XIII strains since 2011. Following up on previous reports, we concluded that currently, and except in Columbiforms, subgenotype VII.1.1 may likely be the predominant subgenotype in many bird species in Iran despite the subgenotype VII.2 being predominant in neighbouring countries.