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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Athens, Georgia » U.S. National Poultry Research Center » Endemic Poultry Viral Diseases Research » Research » Research Project #439572

Research Project: Influence of Vaccines, Host Genetics, and Pathogen Mutation Rates on the Evolutionary Dynamics of Infectious Diseases - Berlin

Location: Endemic Poultry Viral Diseases Research

Project Number: 6040-32000-083-009-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Feb 1, 2021
End Date: Oct 31, 2025

To maintain human and animal health, it is extremely important to understand how pathogens like viruses are transmitted and evolve to higher virulence. This knowledge is especially important for sustainable disease control, particularly regarding the effectiveness of biosecurity, genetic selection, and vaccination. It is necessary to collect, assemble, and analyze highly informative as well as diverse but complementary datasets to determine the roles of these control measures on viral transmission and evolutionary dynamics. This project will collect high-resolution, empirical datasets to build the next generation of systems models incorporating host, viral, and management factors, as well as to establish the role of viral genome variability on virulence evolution. We will predict the combined influence of genetics, vaccination, and management practices on virus transmission, and assess the likely evolutionary dynamics in different socio-economic settings.

To address these knowledge gaps, a series of transmission experiments have been designed utilizing unique resources and data from birds under highly controlled conditions. In this project, an international, interdisciplinary team investigates the impact of these approaches on the spread and evolution of two avian pathogenic viruses - Marek’s disease virus (MDV) and infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) – both of which are primarily controlled by imperfect vaccines. The series of steps would be as follows; 1. Determine the influence of imperfect vaccines, host genetics, and viral mutation rate on transmission and evolution to higher virulence. 2. Validate viral genome polymorphisms associated with increased virulence and the ability of the virus to escape immune surveillance. 3. Build data-informed evolutionary-epidemiological simulation models to develop strategies to control the ecology, evolution and economic burden of MD. 4. Disseminate information on MDV and IBV, and the impact of vaccination to poultry producers and the public through training, workshops, online videos, seminars, and various engagement activities