Qing-Ye Zhuang, Kai-Cheng Wang, Shuo Liu, Guang-Yu Hou, Su-Chun Wang, Wen-Ming Jiang, Jin-Ping Li, Jian-Min Yu, Ji-Ming Chen
China Animal Health and Epidemiology Center, Qingdao, 266032, China
Ji-Ming Chen (E-mail: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org)
Veterinary medicine; Epidemiology; Evolution; Genetics; Infectious diseases; Microbiology; Taxonomy; Virology; Ecology
It was reported recently that the coronaviruses dominant in ducks (DdCoVs) should represent a novel species different from the coronaviruses dominant in chickens (CdCoVs, including infectious bronchitis virus). However, it remains unknown regarding the prevalence and genomic features of coronaviruses in pigeons which are prevalent in China as both domestic and wild birds. In this study, we conducted large-scale surveillance of coronaviruses in chickens, ducks, geese and pigeons using a conserved reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction assay. The surveillance demonstrated that CdCoVs, DdCoVs and the coronaviruses dominant in pigeons (PdCoVs) belonged to different lineages, and they were all prevalent in live poultry markets in some regions of China. We further sequenced seven genomic segments of three PdCoVs, and found that the genetic distances between PdCoVs and DdCoVs or CdCoVs were large enough to classify PdCoVs as a novel species within the genus Gammacoronavirus, according to the species demarcation criterion of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. This study provides novel evidence to update the taxonomy of the coronaviruses circulating in poultry, and brings new insights into the genetic diversity, evolution and distribution of the coronaviruses circulating in domestic birds.