Sequence analysis of rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV) in Australia: alterations after its release
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Liver samples from rabbits killed by RHDV, collected from five States in Australia in 1996 and 1997 were analysed by RT-PCR. A 398 bp fragment of the capsid protein (VP60) gene was amplified by PCR and directly sequenced. The alignment of the nucleotide and amino acid sequences and their comparison with the original strain of the virus released in Australia indicated genetic changes after two years have been small with 98.2% to 100% identity. The constructed phylogenetic tree suggests slight differences in nucleotide substitutions in various States but there is no clear evidence of clustering of sequences according to their geographic origin. In practical terms, sequencing of viral RNA provides a means of testing the efficacy of further releases and subsequent spread of the virus if such a strategy is employed as a means of enhancing RHD as a biological control of the wild rabbit in Australia.
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