Ten representative isolates of Newcastle disease virus (NDV) obtained from outbreaks in waterfowl (geese and ducks) in China since 1997 were characterized both pathotypically and genotypically. The mean death time and intracerebral pathogenicity index were used to evaluate the virulence of the isolates. Pathogenicity tests showed that all 10 isolates were velogenic strains. The main functional region of the F gene made up of 535 nucleotides was amplified by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and sequenced. The deduced amino acid sequence of the fusion protein cleavage site in all 10 isolates was 112RRQKRF117, which is a typical sequence of velogenic strains and is in agreement with the results of in vivo pathogenicity tests. For genotyping, a phylogenetic tree based on nucleotides 47–435 of the F gene was constructed. Phylogenetic analysis showed that most of the isolates were of the genotype VII virus. Only one strain, WG, was found to be of the genotype IX virus. This strain was closest to F48E9, which was isolated in China in 1946 and has been used as a standard challenge strain in vaccine evaluation in China. So, genotype IX virus still causes sporadic infections in geese in China. Further phylogenetic analyses on the genotype VII strains found that all these strains can be subdivided into 5 subgenotypes, and most of the isolates (8 strains) were classified as VIId, a predominant genotype responsible for most Newcastle disease (ND) outbreaks since the end of the past century in China. Only 1 strain, NDV03-053, was shown to be of genotype VIIc virus. Results indicate that the strains of genotype VIId NDV have been the major pathogen, responsible for most epizootic ND outbreaks in waterfowl in China since 1997.
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Vol. 52 • No. 1