Appropriate vaccine selection is crucial in the control of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). Vaccination can prevent clinical disease and reduces viral shedding, but there is a lack of cross-protection between the seven serotypes and their sublineages, making the selection of an adequately protective vaccine difficult. Since the exact composition of their vaccines is not consistently disclosed by all manufacturers, incompatibility of the strains used for vaccination with regionally circulating strains can cause vaccination campaigns to fail. Here, we present a deep sequencing approach for polyvalent inactivated FMD vaccines that can identify all component strains by their genome sequences. The genomes of all strains of a commercial pentavalent FMD vaccine were de novo assembled and the vaccine composition determined semi-quantitatively. The genome assembly required high stringency parameters to prevent misassemblies caused by conserved regions of the genome shared by related strains. In contrast, reference-guided assembly is only recommended in cases where the number of strains is previously known and appropriate reference sequences are available. The presented approach can be applied not only to any inactivated whole-virus FMD vaccine but also to vaccine quality testing in general and allows for better decision-making for vaccines with an unknown composition.
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