Ross River virus (RRV) is a mosquito-borne member of the genus that causes epidemic polyarthritis in humans, costing the Australian health system at least US$10 million annually. Recent progress in RRV vaccine development requires accurate assessment of RRV genetic diversity and evolution, particularly as they may affect the utility of future vaccination. In this study, we provide novel RRV genome sequences and investigate the evolutionary dynamics of RRV from time-structured E2 gene datasets. Our analysis indicates that, although RRV evolves at a similar rate to other alphaviruses (mean evolutionary rate of approx. 8×10 nucleotide substitutions per site year), the relative genetic diversity of RRV has been continuously low through time, possibly as a result of purifying selection imposed by replication in a wide range of natural host and vector species. Together, these findings suggest that vaccination against RRV is unlikely to result in the rapid antigenic evolution that could compromise the future efficacy of current RRV vaccines.


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vol. , part 1, pp. 182–188

Results of Bayesian skyline coalescent analyses of 61 E2 gene sequences using a range of nucleotide-substitution, molecular-clock and demographic models.

Oligonucleotide primers used for PCR and sequencing of Ross River virus genomes.

Isolation and passage information for novel RRV genome sequences.

Sampling information for the 61 E2 gene sequences used in this study.

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