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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Recombination Events Shape the Genomic Evolution of Infectious Bronchitis Virus in Europe

Bali, Krisztina; Balint, Adam; Farsang, Attila; Marton, Szilvia; Nagy, Borbala; Kaszab, Eszter; Belak, Sandor; Palya, Vilmos; Banyai, Krisztian


Infectious bronchitis of chicken is a high morbidity and mortality viral disease affecting the poultry industry worldwide; therefore, a better understanding of this pathogen is of utmost importance. The primary aim of this study was to obtain a deeper insight into the genomic diversity of field infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) strains using phylogenetic and recombination analysis. We sequenced the genome of 20 randomly selected strains from seven European countries. After sequencing, we created a genome sequence data set that contained 36 European origin field isolates and 33 vaccine strains. When analyzing these 69 IBV genome sequences, we identified 215 recombination events highlighting that some strains had multiple recombination breaking points. Recombination hot spots were identified mostly in the regions coding for non-structural proteins, and multiple recombination hot spots were identified in the nsp2, nsp3, nsp8, and nsp12 coding regions. Recombination occurred among different IBV genotypes and involved both field and vaccine IBV strains. Ninety percent of field strains and nearly half of vaccine strains showed evidence of recombination. Despite the low number and the scattered geographical and temporal origin of whole-genome sequence data collected from European Gammacoronaviruses, this study underlines the importance of recombination as a major evolutionary mechanism of IBVs.


infectious bronchitis; genomic epidemiology; genomic evolution

Published in

2021, Volume: 13, number: 4, article number: 535
Publisher: MDPI

      Sustainable Development Goals

      SDG3 Good health and well-being

      UKÄ Subject classification

      Microbiology in the medical area

      Publication identifier


      Permanent link to this page (URI)