1887

Abstract

Intrahost genetic diversity was analysed in naturally infected mosquitoes and birds to determine whether (WNV) exists in nature as a quasispecies and to quantify selective pressures within and between hosts. WNV was sampled from ten infected birds and ten infected mosquito pools collected on Long Island, NY, USA, during the peak of the 2003 WNV transmission season. A 1938 nt fragment comprising the 3′ 1159 nt of the WNV envelope (E) coding region and the 5′ 779 nt of the non-structural protein 1 (NS1) coding region was amplified and cloned and 20 clones per specimen were sequenced. Results from this analysis demonstrate that WNV infections are derived from a genetically diverse population of genomes in nature. The mean nucleotide diversity was 0·016 % within individual specimens and the mean percentage of clones that differed from the consensus sequence was 19·5 %. WNV sequences in mosquitoes were significantly more genetically diverse than WNV in birds. No host-dependent bias for particular types of mutations was observed and estimates of genetic diversity did not differ significantly between E and NS1 coding sequences. Non-consensus clones obtained from two avian specimens had highly similar genetic signatures, providing preliminary evidence that WNV genetic diversity may be maintained throughout the enzootic transmission cycle, rather than arising independently during each infection. Evidence of purifying selection was obtained from both intra- and interhost WNV populations. Combined, these data support the observation that WNV populations may be structured as a quasispecies and document strong purifying natural selection in WNV populations.

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2005-08-01
2019-11-15
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