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Research Project: Considering FMDV Recombination and Strain Emergence in Context of Development of Live-attenuated Vaccines

Location: Research Programs

Project Number: 3022-32000-018-025-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2023
End Date: Aug 31, 2025

There is a need to determine the mechanisms of Foot-and-Mouth Disease Virus (FMDV) recombination as strains develop in natural hosts in order to develop more efficacious vaccines. For this purpose, the overarching objective of this work will be to investigate the emergence, evolution, and transmission of recombinant FMDVs in different host species. The analyses of samples from this work will contribute new insights to viral processes that will contribute to meeting several milestones and deliverables associated with within the parent CRIS project.

ARS and the Cooperator will conduct experimental studies investigating foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) evolution in natural host species. These activities will include experimental study of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) pathogenesis in cattle and pigs to be carried out at the cooperator’s facility. Infectious material (challenge virus) will be transferred from ARS to the cooperator’s facility at Riems island, Greifswald, Germany. Phase I of the study will involve infection of pigs with different strains of FMDV to detect potential recombination between the infecting viruses generating novel chimeric FMDVs. Blood, oral fluids, and tissues from infected pigs will be analyzed using next generation sequencing (NGS) techniques for in-depth analysis of FMDV population dynamics. Phase II of the study will involve investigation of inter-species transmission of recombinant FMDVs from infected hosts. The outcomes of Phase I will guide design of experiments to be performed during phase II. Specifically, ARS scientists have already demonstrated that frequent FMDV recombination occurs in cattle that are infected with multiple FMDV strains. If Phase I experiments demonstrate that the same is true for infected pigs, transmission in both directions (i.e. pigs to cows, and cows to pigs) will be attempted. If phase I experiments confirm that FMDV recombination does not occur in coinfected pigs, Phase II studies will focus on transmission of recombinant FMDVs from cattle to pigs. Upon completion of the experimental studies, portions of sample material obtained from infected animals will be processed at the Cooperator's facility and some will be transferred to ARS.