Yuan Z, Zhou T, Zhang J, Zeng Q, Jiang D, Wei M, L. The Genomic Evolution and the Transmission Dynamics of H6N2 Avian Influenza A Viruses in Southern China. Viruses. 2022 May 26;14(6):1154
In China, the broad prevalence of H6 subtype influenza viruses, increasingly detected in aquatic birds, promotes their exchange materials with other highly pathogenic human-infecting H5N1, H5N6, and H7N9 influenza viruses. Strikingly, some H6 subtype viruses can infect pigs, dogs, and humans, posing risks to public health. In this study, 9 H6N2 viruses recovered from waterfowl species in the Guangdong province of China in 2018 were isolated and sequenced. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that the genome sequences of these H6N2 viruses belonged to Group I, except for the NP gene in Group III. Coalescent analyses demonstrated that the reassortment of NA and NS genes have occurred in two independent clusters, suggesting H6 subtype viruses had been undergoing a complex reassortant. To examine the evolutionary dynamics and the dissemination of the H6 subtype viruses, a Bayesian stochastic search variable selection was performed for results showing higher viral migration rates between closer provinces, including Guangdong, Jiangxi, Guangxi, and Fujian. Notably, the transmission routes of the H6 subtype viruses were concentrated in Jiangxi Province, the most frequent location for input and output transmission and a region containing Poyang Lake, a well-known wintering site for migration birds. We also found that the aquatic birds, especially ducks, were the most common input source of the viral transmission. In addition, we also found that eight positively selected amino acid sites were identified in HA protein. Given their continuous dissemination and the broad prevalence of the H6 subtype influenza viruses, continued surveillance is warranted in the future.
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