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Virology. 2003 Feb 1;306(1):109-15.

Evidence for specificity of psittacine beak and feather disease viruses among avian hosts.

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Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution, Institute of Molecular BioSciences, Massey University, Private Bag 11-222, Palmerston North, New Zealand.


Beak and feather disease is a major avian disease of both captive and wild parrot and cockatoo populations. Clinical signs include beak elongation and abnormal growth, together with weight loss and in some individuals the disease is fatal. We investigated the relationship between viral genotypes and their hosts in order to test for a positive association between distinct viral genomes and avian species. Specifically, we used the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to amplify and sequence a 605-nucleotide (nt) segment of a coding region in the Beak and Feather Disease Virus (BFDV) genome. Feather and blood samples from 25 caged birds representing 10 species were assayed and the BFDV was detected in 21 samples from New Zealand. A phylogenetic analysis of DNA sequences from 17 specimens together with previously published sequences from Australian "isolates" revealed three lineages present in New Zealand. One viral lineage was found in six cockatoos representing two species (designated CT), a second lineage was detected in a budgerigar (designated BG), and a third was found in 10 lorikeets representing seven species (designated LK). This distinctive clustering pattern of viral sequences with groups of psittacine species indicates a genotypic association between the virus and these hosts.

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