Almost all commercial poultry are vaccinated against avian coronavirus infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) using live attenuated vaccines mass administered by spray at day of hatch. Although many different types of IBV vaccines are used successfully, the ArkDPI serotype vaccine, when applied by spray, does not infect and replicate sufficiently to provide protection against homologous challenge. In this study, we examined a different Ark vaccine strain (Ark99), which is no longer used commercially due to its reactivity in one day old chicks, to determine if it could be further attenuated by passage in embryonated eggs but still provide adequate protection. Further attenuation of the Ark99 vaccine was achieved by passage in embryonated eggs but ArkGA P1, P20, and P40 (designated ArkGA after P1) were still too reactive to be suitable vaccine candidates. However, ArkGA P60 when given by spray had little or no vaccine reaction in one day old broiler chicks, and it induced protection from clinical signs and ciliostasis following homologous challenge. In addition, vaccinated and challenged birds had significantly less challenge virus, an important measure of protection, compared to non-vaccinated and challenged controls. The full-length genomes of viruses from egg passages 1, 20, 40, and 60 were sequenced using the Illumina platform and the data showed single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) had accumulated in regions of the genome associated with viral replication, pathogenicity, and cell tropism. ArkGA P60 accumulated the most SNPs in key genes associated with pathogenicity (polyprotein gene 1ab) and cell tropism (spike gene), compared to previous passages, which likely resulted in its more attenuated phenotype. These results indicate that the ArkGA P60 vaccine is safe for spray vaccination of broiler chicks and induces suitable protection against challenge with pathogenic Ark-type virus.
Keywords: Arkansas DPI serotype vaccine; Arkansas GA serotype vaccine; Infectious bronchitis virus.
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