Avian Bornavirus

Authored by: Francesca Sidoti , Maria Lucia Mandola , Francesca Rizzo , Rossana Cavallo , Cristina Costa

Molecular Detection of Animal Viral Pathogens

Print publication date:  August  2016
Online publication date:  May  2016

Print ISBN: 9781498700368
eBook ISBN: 9781498700375
Adobe ISBN:


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Proventricular dilatation disease (PDD) is a common progressive and often fatal neurologic disease of captive psittacine birds worldwide, affecting more than 70 species, and has been reported in several captive and free-ranging birds representing at least five additional orders, including toucans, honey creepers, weaver finches, water fowl, raptors, and passerines. PDD has long been considered an infectious disease, with multiple viruses having been involved as possible etiological agents. In 2008, two independent research groups in Israel and the United States, using pyrosequencing of cDNA from the brain tissue of parrots with PDD, identified two strains of a novel, nonsegmented, negative-sense, single-stranded RNA viruses, which were classified as distinct genotypes of a new genus of the Bornaviridae family denominated as avian bornavirus (ABV). 1,2 ABV RNA was detected by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in the brain, proventriculus, and adrenal gland of three parrots that died from PDD but not in four unaffected birds.2 Kistler and colleagues identified by microarray a bornavirus hybridization signature in five of eight PDD cases and none of the controls. High-throughput pyrosequencing in combination with conventional PCR cloning and sequencing allowed to define a complete viral genome sequence. Gray et al.3 succeeded in culturing ABV by inoculating primary mallard embryo fibroblasts with a fresh brain suspension from the brain of psittacines diagnosed with PDD. Based on ABV isolates, seven distinct genotypes were identified, each sharing only approximately 65% nucleotide sequence identity with previously known members of the Bornaviridae family, all of which originated from mammalian hosts, and approximately 85%–95% with other ABV genotypes. The presence of different genotypes can be explained by the wide diversity of species affected by PDD.

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