Intra-epidemic genome variation in highly pathogenic African swine fever virus (ASFV) from the country of Georgia

Virol J. 2018 Dec 14;15(1):190. doi: 10.1186/s12985-018-1099-z.


Background: African swine fever virus (ASFV) causes an acute hemorrhagic infection in suids with a mortality rate of up to 100%. No vaccine is available and the potential for catastrophic disease in Europe remains elevated due to the ongoing ASF epidemic in Russia and Baltic countries. To date, intra-epidemic whole-genome variation for ASFV has not been reported. To provide a more comprehensive baseline for genetic variation early in the ASF outbreak, we sequenced two Georgian ASFV samples, G-2008/1 and G-2008/2, derived from domestic porcine blood collected in 2008.

Methods: Genomic DNA was extracted directly from low-volume ASFV PCR-positive porcine blood samples and subjected to next generation sequencing on the Illumina Miseq platform. De novo and mapped sequence assemblies were performed using CLCBio software. Genomic illustrations, sequence alignments and assembly figures were generated using Geneious v10.2.4. Sequence repeat architecture was analyzed using DNASTAR GeneQuest 14.1.0.

Results: The G-2008/1 and G-2008/2 genomes were distinguished from each other by coding changes in seven genes, including MGF 110-1 L, X69R, MGF 505-10R, EP364R, H233R, E199L, and MGF 360-21R in addition to eight homopolymer tract variations. The 2008/2 genome possessed a novel allele state at a previously undescribed intergenic repeat locus between genes C315R and C147L. The C315R/C147L locus represents the earliest observed variable repeat sequence polymorphism reported among isolates from this epidemic. No sequence variation was observed in conventional ASFV subtyping markers. The two genomes exhibited complete collinearity and identical gene content with the Georgia 2007/1 reference genome. Approximately 56 unique homopolymer A/T-tract variations were identified that were unique to the Georgia 2007/1 genome. In both 2008 genomes, within-sample sequence read heterogeneity was evident at six homopolymeric G/C-tracts confined to the known hypervariable ~ 7 kb region in the left terminal region of the genome.

Conclusions: This is the first intra-epidemic comparative genomic analysis reported for ASFV and provides insight into the intra-epidemic microevolution of ASFV. The genomes reported here, in addition to the G-2007/1 genome, provide an early baseline for future genome-level comparisons and epidemiological tracing efforts.

MeSH terms

  • African Swine Fever / epidemiology*
  • African Swine Fever Virus / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA, Viral / blood*
  • DNA, Viral / genetics
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Genome, Viral / genetics*
  • Georgia (Republic) / epidemiology
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Polymorphism, Genetic / genetics*
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Swine
  • Viral Proteins / genetics


  • DNA, Viral
  • Viral Proteins