PLoS ONE (2010-01-01)

Prevalence and phylogeny of coronaviruses in wild birds from the Bering Strait area (Beringia).

  • Shaman Muradrasoli,
  • Adám Bálint,
  • John Wahlgren,
  • Jonas Waldenström,
  • Sándor Belák,
  • Jonas Blomberg,
  • Björn Olsen

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 5, no. 10
p. e13640


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Coronaviruses (CoVs) can cause mild to severe disease in humans and animals, their host range and environmental spread seem to have been largely underestimated, and they are currently being investigated for their potential medical relevance. Infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) belongs to gamma-coronaviruses and causes a costly respiratory viral disease in chickens. The role of wild birds in the epidemiology of IBV is poorly understood. In the present study, we examined 1,002 cloacal and faecal samples collected from 26 wild bird species in the Beringia area for the presence of CoVs, and then we performed statistical and phylogenetic analyses. We detected diverse CoVs by RT-PCR in wild birds in the Beringia area. Sequence analysis showed that the detected viruses are gamma-coronaviruses related to IBV. These findings suggest that wild birds are able to carry gamma-coronaviruses asymptomatically. We concluded that CoVs are widespread among wild birds in Beringia, and their geographic spread and frequency is higher than previously realised. Thus, Avian CoV can be efficiently disseminated over large distances and could be a genetic reservoir for future emerging pathogenic CoVs. Considering the great animal health and economic impact of IBV as well as the recent emergence of novel coronaviruses such as SARS-coronavirus, it is important to investigate the role of wildlife reservoirs in CoV infection biology and epidemiology.