Genome characterization of a novel megrivirus-related avian picornavirus from a carnivorous wild bird, western marsh harrier (Circus aeruginosus)
Transmissible viral proventriculitis (TVP), an infectious disease in chickens, is responsible for economic losses in the commercial poultry industry. The major etiologic agent, however, is unknown. Using metagenomics, we compared the diversity of viruses present in proventriculus samples from flocks diagnosed with TVP to those of healthy flocks in South Korea between 2003 and 2012. Each sample had a mean of 21,538,726 sequence reads generated by high-throughput sequencing, with a mean length of 160 nt. Enrichment in viral sequences suggested that at least three viruses were present in each TVP sample. Although we could not determine a pathogen of TVP that matched the known morphology, picornavirus sequences were present in all five disease samples, suggesting an association with TVP. The five samples yielded 1,045–1,720 bp contigs with 81–84 % nt sequence identity to turkey hepatitis virus (accession number: HM751199). Whole-genome analysis indicated that the QIA01 strain of the novel picornavirus was similar to turkey hepatitis virus in the P2 and P3 regions (82.7 % nt and 95.5 % aa sequence identity), but different in the structural region and partial 2A peptides (56.2 % nt and 23.9 % aa sequence identity). In addition, the QIA01 virus was similar (87.0 % nt and 95.6 % aa sequence identity) to chicken megrivirus, recently detected in chickens with malabsorption syndrome in Hungary. Our results are useful for understanding the genetic diversity of avian picornaviruses and for classifying chicken megrivirus as a pathogen affecting the digestive tract of chickens.