Molecular Characterization of Subtype H11N9 Avian Influenza Virus Isolated from Shorebirds in Brazil

PLoS One. 2015 Dec 21;10(12):e0145627. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0145627. eCollection 2015.


Migratory aquatic birds play an important role in the maintenance and spread of avian influenza viruses (AIV). Many species of aquatic migratory birds tend to use similar migration routes, also known as flyways, which serve as important circuits for the dissemination of AIV. In recent years there has been extensive surveillance of the virus in aquatic birds in the Northern Hemisphere; however in contrast only a few studies have been attempted to detect AIV in wild birds in South America. There are major flyways connecting South America to Central and North America, whereas avian migration routes between South America and the remaining continents are uncommon. As a result, it has been hypothesized that South American AIV strains would be most closely related to the strains from North America than to those from other regions in the world. We characterized the full genome of three AIV subtype H11N9 isolates obtained from ruddy turnstones (Arenaria interpres) on the Amazon coast of Brazil. For all gene segments, all three strains consistently clustered together within evolutionary lineages of AIV that had been previously described from aquatic birds in North America. In particular, the H11N9 isolates were remarkably closely related to AIV strains from shorebirds sampled at the Delaware Bay region, on the Northeastern coast of the USA, more than 5000 km away from where the isolates were retrieved. Additionally, there was also evidence of genetic similarity to AIV strains from ducks and teals from interior USA and Canada. These findings corroborate that migratory flyways of aquatic birds play an important role in determining the genetic structure of AIV in the Western hemisphere, with a strong epidemiological connectivity between North and South America.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Migration
  • Animals
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Charadriiformes / virology*
  • Influenza A virus / genetics*
  • Influenza A virus / isolation & purification
  • Influenza in Birds / virology*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny

Associated data

  • GENBANK/KF824501
  • GENBANK/KF824502
  • GENBANK/KF824503
  • GENBANK/KF824504
  • GENBANK/KF824505
  • GENBANK/KF824506
  • GENBANK/KT932362
  • GENBANK/KT932363
  • GENBANK/KT932364
  • GENBANK/KT932365
  • GENBANK/KT932366
  • GENBANK/KT932367
  • GENBANK/KT932368
  • GENBANK/KT932369
  • GENBANK/KT932370
  • GENBANK/KT932371
  • GENBANK/KT932372
  • GENBANK/KT932373
  • GENBANK/KT932374
  • GENBANK/KT932375
  • GENBANK/KT932376
  • GENBANK/KT932377
  • GENBANK/KT932378
  • GENBANK/KT932379

Grant support

This research was funded by São Paulo Research Foundation, National Counsel of Technological and Scientific Development, and Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.