Isolation and evolutionary analyses of gout-associated goose astrovirus causing disease in experimentally infected chickens

Jie-Yu Li, Hu Wen-Qin, Tian-Ning Liu, Zhang Hui-Hui, Tanja Opriessnig, Chaoting Xiao

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Astroviruses are a common cause of gastroenteritis in humans and animals. They are also associated with extra-intestinal infections, including hepatitis in ducklings, nephritis in chickens, as well as fatal meningitis and encephalitis in humans and other mammals. Since 2014, outbreaks of disease characterized by visceral gout and swelling of kidneys have been reported in goslings and ducklings in China, with the causative agent revealed to be a novel avian astrovirus (GoAstV). In the present study, this novel gout-associated GoAstV was identified in diseased goslings from two farms in Hunan province, China. Three genomes were successfully sequenced, analyzed and were shown to have high identities of 99.7%-99.8% between each other, with some specific amino acid alterations revealed in open reading frame 2 (ORF2) when compared to other gout-associated GoAstVs. Two strains were further efficiently isolated in the chicken fibroblast cell line DF-1 with high virus titers of 10 11 viral
genomic copies per ml of culture media. A pilot virus challenge study using GoAstV in chickens demonstrated that this virus can cause clinical visceral gout in chickens, indicating its ability to cross the species barrier. Based on the phylogenetic analyses of capsid sequences, the identified GoAstVs were proposed to be classified into two genotypes, GoAstV1 and GoAstV2, and the novel gout-associated GoAstVs were all clustered in GoAstV2. Further Bayesian inference analyses indicated a nucleotide substitution rate of 1.46×10 -3 substitutions/site/year for avian astrovirus based on ORF2 sequences, and the time to the most recent common ancestor (TMRCA) of GoAstVs was estimated to be around 2011. This is the first report to confirm GoAstV can infect chickens while also providing an estimation of the evolutionary rates of avastroviruses.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPoultry Science
Early online date18 Nov 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Nov 2020


  • goose astrovirus
  • chickeninfection
  • evolution
  • time to the most recent common ancestor (TMRCA)


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