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Article

Spatiotemporal Dynamics, Evolutionary History and Zoonotic Potential of Moroccan H9N2 Avian Influenza Viruses from 2016 to 2021

1
Biodiversity, Ecology and Genome Laboratory, Faculty of Sciences, Mohammed V University in Rabat, 4 Avenue Ibn Battouta, Rabat 10106, Morocco
2
Mouahid’s Veterinary Clinic, Temara 12000, Morocco
3
Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie, 35020 Legnaro, Italy
4
Immunology and Biodiversity Laboratory, Faculty of Science Ain chock, Hassan II University of Casablanca, Casablanca 20100, Morocco
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Division of Pharmacy and Veterinary Inputs, Food Safety National Office (ONSSA), Rue Ikhlas Cym, PB 4509 Akkari, Rabat 10050, Morocco
6
Ecole supérieure de Technologie de Lâayoune, Quartier 24 Mars, Lâayoune 3007, Morocco
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Caijun Sun
Viruses 2022, 14(3), 509; https://doi.org/10.3390/v14030509
Received: 29 January 2022 / Revised: 22 February 2022 / Accepted: 24 February 2022 / Published: 1 March 2022
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Drivers of Evolution of Animal RNA Viruses)
The H9N2 virus continues to spread in wild birds and poultry worldwide. At the beginning of 2016, the H9N2 Avian influenza virus (AIV) was detected in Morocco for the first time; despite the implementation of vaccination strategies to control the disease, the virus has become endemic in poultry in the country. The present study was carried out to investigate the origins, zoonotic potential, as well as the impact of vaccination on the molecular evolution of Moroccan H9N2 viruses. Twenty-eight (28) H9N2 viruses collected from 2016 to 2021 in Moroccan poultry flocks were isolated and their whole genomes sequenced. Phylogenetic and evolutionary analyses showed that Moroccan H9N2 viruses belong to the G1-like lineage and are closely related to viruses isolated in Africa and the Middle East. A high similarity among all the 2016–2017 hemagglutinin sequences was observed, while the viruses identified in 2018–2019 and 2020–2021 were separated from their 2016–2017 ancestors by long branches. Mutations in the HA protein associated with antigenic drift and increased zoonotic potential were also found. The Bayesian phylogeographic analyses revealed the Middle East as being the region where the Moroccan H9N2 virus may have originated, before spreading to the other African countries. Our study is the first comprehensive analysis of the evolutionary history of the H9N2 viruses in the country, highlighting their zoonotic potential and pointing out the importance of implementing effective monitoring systems. View Full-Text
Keywords: avian influenza virus; H9N2; phylogeny; molecular evolution; Morocco avian influenza virus; H9N2; phylogeny; molecular evolution; Morocco
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MDPI and ACS Style

El Mellouli, F.; Mouahid, M.; Fusaro, A.; Zecchin, B.; Zekhnini, H.; El Khantour, A.; Giussani, E.; Palumbo, E.; Rguibi Idrissi, H.; Monne, I.; Benhoussa, A. Spatiotemporal Dynamics, Evolutionary History and Zoonotic Potential of Moroccan H9N2 Avian Influenza Viruses from 2016 to 2021. Viruses 2022, 14, 509. https://doi.org/10.3390/v14030509

AMA Style

El Mellouli F, Mouahid M, Fusaro A, Zecchin B, Zekhnini H, El Khantour A, Giussani E, Palumbo E, Rguibi Idrissi H, Monne I, Benhoussa A. Spatiotemporal Dynamics, Evolutionary History and Zoonotic Potential of Moroccan H9N2 Avian Influenza Viruses from 2016 to 2021. Viruses. 2022; 14(3):509. https://doi.org/10.3390/v14030509

Chicago/Turabian Style

El Mellouli, Fatiha, Mohamed Mouahid, Alice Fusaro, Bianca Zecchin, Hasnae Zekhnini, Abderrazak El Khantour, Edoardo Giussani, Elisa Palumbo, Hamid Rguibi Idrissi, Isabella Monne, and Abdelaziz Benhoussa. 2022. "Spatiotemporal Dynamics, Evolutionary History and Zoonotic Potential of Moroccan H9N2 Avian Influenza Viruses from 2016 to 2021" Viruses 14, no. 3: 509. https://doi.org/10.3390/v14030509

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