Original Article

Archives of Virology

, Volume 156, Issue 1, pp 107-115

First online:

Reassortment of American and Eurasian genes in an influenza A virus isolated from a great black-backed gull (Larus marinus), a species demonstrated to move between these regions

  • Michelle WilleAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • , Gregory J. RobertsonAffiliated withWildlife Research Division, Environment Canada
  • , Hugh WhitneyAffiliated withAnimal Health Division, Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Natural Resources
  • , Davor OjkicAffiliated withAnimal Health Laboratory, University of Guelph
  • , Andrew S. LangAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, Memorial University of Newfoundland Email author 

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The primary hosts for influenza A viruses are waterfowl, although gulls and shorebirds are also important in global avian influenza dynamics. Avian influenza virus genes are separated phylogenetically into two geographic clades, American and Eurasian, which is caused by the geographic separation of the host species between these two regions. We surveyed a gregarious and cosmopolitan species, the Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus), in Newfoundland, Canada, for the presence of avian influenza viruses. We have isolated and determined the complete genome sequence of an H13N2 virus, A/Great Black-backed Gull/Newfoundland/296/2008(H13N2), from one of these birds. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that this virus contained two genes in the American gull clade (PB1, HA), two genes in the American avian clade (PA, NA), and four genes in the Eurasian gull clade (PB2, NP, M, NS). We analyzed bird band recovery information and found the first evidence of trans-Atlantic migration from Newfoundland to Europe (UK, Spain and Portugal) for this species. Thus, great black-backed gulls could be important for movement of avian influenza viruses across the Atlantic Ocean and within North America.