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A new isolate of beak and feather disease virus from endemic wild red-fronted parakeets (Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae) in New Zealand

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Psittacine beak and feather disease (PBFD) is a viral disease distributed worldwide with a potentially critical impact on many rare parrots. While efforts have been made to determine its prevalence in wild and captive psittacines, only limited work has been done to document complete genomes of its causative agent, beak and feather disease virus (BFDV). Here, we describe five full genomes of BFDV isolated from wild specimens of an endemic New Zealand parrot, the red-fronted parakeet (Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae). The isolates share >99% nucleotide similarity amongst themselves and ~91–92% similarity to BFDV isolates from southern Africa, Europe and Australia. A maximum-likelihood (ML) phylogenetic tree including 42 other full-genome sequences indicated that the five isolates from red-fronted parakeets represent an undescribed genotype of BFDV. These isolates are evolutionarily most closely related to the Cacatuini isolates from Thailand and the Lorinae isolates from Australia in the rep gene ML tree; however, in the cp ML tree, the evolutionary relationship is closer to viruses found in the Psittacini.

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This research was completed with the logistical and financial support of the University of Canterbury (Science Faculty Early Career Grant), New Zealand Department of Conservation, Massey University (Institute of Natural Sciences), the University of Auckland (School of Biological Sciences), Motuihe Island Trust, Tawharanui Open Sanctuary Supporters Inc., Auckland Regional Council, and National Council of Science from Mexico (CONACYT). This research was conducted under full approval of the New Zealand Department of Conservation (permits AK-15300-RES, AK-20666-FAU and AK-22857-FAU) and Massey University Animal Ethics Committee (protocols MUAEC 07/138 and 08/24). MM is supported by the New Zealand Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (UOCX0601). We thank the numerous volunteers who assisted with capture and processing of red-fronted of parakeets on Little Barrier Island. Special thanks go to Shane McInnes and Liz Whitwell (Department of Conservation) who greatly facilitated our work on Little Barrier Island.

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Correspondence to Arvind Varsani.

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Ortiz-Catedral, L., Kurenbach, B., Massaro, M. et al. A new isolate of beak and feather disease virus from endemic wild red-fronted parakeets (Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae) in New Zealand. Arch Virol 155, 613–620 (2010).

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