Is Penguin Circovirus Circulating Only in the Antarctic Circle? Lack of Viral Detection in Namibia

Laura C. Roberts, Umberto Molini, Lauren M. Coetzee, Siegfried Khaiseb, Jean-Paul Roux, Jessica Kemper, David G. Roberts, Katrin Ludynia, Marcus Doherr, Darrell Abernethy, Giovanni Franzo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Simple Summary
The number of circovirus species is continuously expanding thanks to improved diagnostic and sequencing technologies. Recently, a new circovirus (penguin circovirus (PenCV)) was identified in the guano and cloacal samples collected from Adélie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) and chinstrap penguins (Pygoscelis antarcticus) in Antarctica, and a potential association with disease was proposed. The present study investigates the occurrence of PenCV infection in Namibian African penguin (Spheniscus demersus) colonies. No evidence of viral circulation was observed, suggesting that PenCV distribution could be limited to Antarctica or to particular penguin species.

Abstract
The known host range of circoviruses is continuously expanding because of more intensive diagnostic activities and advanced sequencing tools. Recently, a new circovirus (penguin circovirus (PenCV)) was identified in the guano and cloacal samples collected from Adélie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) and chinstrap penguins (Pygoscelis antarcticus) in Antarctica. Although the virus was detected in several asymptomatic subjects, a potential association with feather disease was speculated. To investigate the occurrence and implications of PenCV in other penguin species located outside of Antarctica, a broad survey was undertaken in African penguins (Spheniscus demersus) on two islands off the southern Namibian coast. For this purpose, specific molecular biology assays were developed and validated. None of the 151 blood samples tested positive for PenCV. Several reasons could explain the lack of PenCV positive samples. African penguins and Pygoscelis species are separated by approximately 6000 km, so there is almost no opportunity for transmission. Similarly, host susceptibility to PenCV might be penguin genus-specific. Overall, the present study found no evidence of PenCV in African penguin colonies in Namibia. Further dedicated studies are required to assess the relevance of PenCV among different penguin species.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1449
Number of pages6
JournalAnimals
Volume13
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2023

Keywords

  • molecular epidemiology
  • Namibia
  • penguin
  • penguin circovirus (PenCV)

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