Rinderpest, a once much feared livestock disease, was declared eradicated in 2011, however virus-containing material is still held in laboratories worldwide. Prior to the destruction of our institute’s stocks, we determined the full genome sequence of the distinct samples of rinderpest virus (RPV) in our repository. This data would decipher the historical epidemiology of RPV and allow for recovery of the virus should the need arise.

For each sample (n=123), sequencing libraries were prepared using either transposon-based fragmentation of cDNA (Nextera XT DNA Library Prep kit) or single primer isothermal amplification (Trio RNA-Seq kit) and sequenced on the Illumina MiSeq. Regions of low or no coverage were re-sequenced using a Sanger sequencing approach.

Examination of the sequences of RPV isolates has shown that the African isolates form a single disparate clade, rather than two separate clades as was previously believed. We have also identified two groups of goat-passaged viruses which have acquired an extra 6 bases in the long untranslated region between the matrix and fusion protein coding sequences, and a group of African isolates where translation of the fusion protein begins from a non-standard start codon (AUA). In addition, the viruses that were force-passaged through alternate hosts such as rabbits or goats, appear to diverge from the clades that represent viruses which were maintained in the wild.

Our unique set of sequence data will be invaluable for forensic epidemiology investigations in the event of an unforeseen outbreak and aid in the understanding of the evolution of related morbilliviruses.

  • This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.

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