Reassortant influenza a viruses in wild duck populations: Effects on viral shedding and persistence in water

Camille Lebarbenchon, Srinand Sreevatsan, Thierry Lefèvre, My Yang, Muthannan A. Ramakrishnan, Justin D. Brown, David E. Stallknecht

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35 Scopus citations


Wild ducks of the genus Anas represent the natural hosts for a large genetic diversity of influenza A viruses. In these hosts, co-infections with different virus genotypes are frequent and result in high rates of genetic reassortment. Recent genomic data have provided information regarding the pattern and frequency of these reassortant viruses in duck populations; however, potential consequences on viral shedding and maintenance in the environment have not been investigated. On the basis of full-genome sequencing, we identified five virus genotypes, in a wild duck population in northwestern Minnesota (USA), that naturally arose from genetic reassortments. We investigated the effects of influenza A virus genotype on the viral shedding pattern in Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) and the duration of infectivity in water, under different temperature regimens. Overall, we found that variation in the viral genome composition of these isolates had limited effects on duration, extent and pattern of viral shedding, as well as on the reduction of infectivity in water over time. These results support that, in wild ducks, functionally equivalent gene segments could be maintained in virus populations with no fitness costs when genetic reassortments occur.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3967-3975
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1744
StatePublished - Oct 7 2012


  • Avian influenza virus
  • Experimental infections
  • Genetic reassortments
  • Mallards
  • Water-borne transmission
  • Wild birds


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