Phylogenetic analysis of small ruminant lentiviruses in Mongolian sheep supports an ancient east-west split for the genotype A

Vet Res Commun. 2024 Jun;48(3):1955-1962. doi: 10.1007/s11259-024-10361-9. Epub 2024 Mar 26.


The ovine maedi-visna virus (MVV) and caprine arthritis-encephalitis virus (CAEV) are small ruminant lentiviruses (SRLVs) with striking genetic and structural similarities. The presence of SRLV in Mongolian sheep and goats was serologically demonstrated more than a decade ago; however, the viral genotype remains unknown. In total, 329 blood samples were collected from two sheep breeds (i.e., Khalkha and Sumber) in Tov, Govisumber, Arkhangay, Dornogovi, Zavkhan, and Sukhbaatar provinces, Mongolia. Serological and phylogenetic analyses were performed regardless of any apparent clinical signs, although most of the animals appeared healthy. All sheep in three of the six provinces were seronegative, whereas the seroprevalence in the Tov, Govisumber, and Zavkhan provinces averaged 7.9%. Genomic DNA from seropositive animals was tested using hemi-nested polymerase chain reaction, and sub-genomic SRLV sequences were determined from nine samples. Mongolian SRLV sequences clustered within the divergent subtype A22, which was previously found only in Fertile Crescent regions, including Lebanon, Jordan, and Iran, where the first sheep-domestication (Ovis aries) occurred. According to the phylogenetic analysis, genotype A has two ancestors from the ancient Fertile Crescent: (1) Turkish strains and (2) Iranian, Jordanian, and Lebanese strains. The first ancestor spread westward, whereas the second spread eastward, ultimately reaching Mongolia.

Keywords: Ovis aries; Domestication; Mongolian sheep; Phylogenetic analysis; Retrovirus; Small ruminant lentivirus.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arthritis-Encephalitis Virus, Caprine / classification
  • Arthritis-Encephalitis Virus, Caprine / genetics
  • Arthritis-Encephalitis Virus, Caprine / isolation & purification
  • Genotype*
  • Lentivirus Infections* / epidemiology
  • Lentivirus Infections* / veterinary
  • Lentivirus Infections* / virology
  • Mongolia / epidemiology
  • Phylogeny*
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies
  • Sheep / virology
  • Sheep Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Sheep Diseases* / virology
  • Visna-maedi virus / classification
  • Visna-maedi virus / genetics
  • Visna-maedi virus / isolation & purification