The low pathogenic H9N2 influenza viruses are a threat to poultry as well as global public health due to their ability to reassort with other avian influenza viruses leading to the emergence of novel reassortant viruses having pandemic potential. The continued inter-subtypic reassortment events between influenza viruses in the Indian sub-continent have led to the replacement of the already existing G1 lineage of H9N2 viruses with the UDL genotype-like (A/chicken/Pakistan UDL-01/08/H9N2) viruses, which are triple reassortants between H9N2 virus (G1 lineage), HPAI H5N1 virus (clade 2.2) and HPAI H7N3 viruses. G1 lineage of H9N2 viruses in China has also been replaced with a fitter G57 lineage which donated internal genes to novel H7N9 viruses in 2013. We assessed and compared the replication, transmission and pathogenic potential of UDL01/2008/H9N2 virus and A/Ck/Vietnam/H7F-14-BN4-315/2015 H9N2 virus of G57 lineage isolated from Vietnam in 2015. Vietnam H9N2 virus was found to be relatively more virulent compared to the UDL genotype-like H9N2 in Chickens. Our in-vitro and in-ovo infection studies also showed that Vietnam/BN4-315/H9N2 virus has greater replication fitness compared to UDL-01/08/H9N2 virus. The UDL-01/08 H9N2 reassortants carrying internal genes of Vietnam/BN4-315 virus also showed improved replication fitness in MDCK cells. It is, therefore predicted that genetic reassortment between dominant strains in the Far East and the Indian subcontinent/Middle East may generate more virulent H9N2 viruses.

  • This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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