The geographical distribution of members of the Great Island (GI) subgroup in the Kemerovo serogroup of orbiviruses extends from the Arctic to the Sub-antarctic. To examine the gene pool size of this group, five topotypes whose origins ranged from Iceland in the northern hemisphere to Macquarie Island in the Southern Ocean were tested for their ability to reassort . All the isolates were distinguishable by plaque reduction neutralization tests, and their genome profile in polyacrylamide gels. They showed high frequency reassortment following dual infection of cell cultures with temperature-sensitive () mutants and/or wild-type virus. Analysis of the dsRNA profile of the reassortants by PAGE confirmed the observation from reassortment assays that the Great Island subgroup constitutes a single gene pool. A seventh reassortment group was identified, distinct from the six groups previously described. The lesions for reassortment groups I, V and VII were considered to be in genome segments 9, 3 and 2, respectively. Segment 6 of GI virus (in contrast to segment 5 of Broadhaven and Wexford viruses) was shown to be the major genetic determinant of serotype specificity.


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