Evolution of infectious bronchitis virus in Taiwan: characterisation of RNA recombination in the nucleocapsid gene.
ABSTRACT Avian infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) belongs to the Coronaviridae family and causes significant economic loss in Taiwan (TW), even in flocks that have been extensively immunised with Massachusetts (Mass)-serotype vaccines. Phylogenetic analysis of all non-structural and most structural genes shows that TW IBV is genetically distinct from the US strain and more similar to Chinese (CH) IBV. In contrast, the nucleocapsid (N) gene of TW IBV presents phylogenetic incongruence. RNA recombination at the 5' end of the N gene between TW and US IBV is shown to be responsible for this discordance. Surprisingly, the recombinant N gene is found in all of tested TW IBV isolates, suggesting that a recombination event gave origin to a founder lineage. Our data indicate that RNA recombination in the recombinant 5' end of the N gene may have caused the emergence of the current IBV population in Taiwan.