Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

Rune Dietz

Phylogenomic insights to the origin and spread of phocine distemper virus in European harbour seals in 1988 and 2002

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskrift/Konferencebidrag i tidsskrift /Bidrag til avisTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


  • Iben Stokholm, Københavns Universitet
  • ,
  • Tero Härkönen, Swedish Museum of Natural History, Sverige
  • Karin C. Harding, University of Gothenburg, Sverige
  • Ursula Siebert, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Tyskland
  • Kristina Lehnert, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover
  • ,
  • Rune Dietz
  • Jonas Teilmann
  • Anders Galatius
  • Linnea Worsøe Havmøller
  • ,
  • Emma Carroll, Univ St Andrews, University of St Andrews, Scottish Oceans Inst, New Zealand
  • Ailsa Hall, Univ St Andrews, University of St Andrews, Scottish Oceans Inst, University of Auckland, Storbritannien
  • Morten Tange Olsen, Københavns Universitet

The 1988 and 2002 phocine distemper virus (PDV) outbreaks in European harbour seals Phoca vitulina are among the largest mass mortality events recorded in marine mammals. Despite its large impact on harbour seal population numbers, and 3 decades of studies, many questions regarding the spread and temporal origin of PDV remain unanswered. Here, we sequenced and analysed 7123 bp of the PDV genome, including the coding and non-coding regions of the entire P, M, F and H genes in tissues from 44 harbour seals to shed new light on the origin and spread of PDV in 1988 and 2002. The phylogenetic analyses trace the origin of the PDV strain causing the 1988 outbreak to between June 1987 and April 1988, while the origin of the strain causing the 2002 outbreak can be traced back to between July 2001 and April 2002. The analyses further point to several independent introductions of PDV in 1988, possibly linked to a southward mass immigration of harp seals in the winter and spring of 1987−1988. The vector for the 2002 outbreak is unknown, but the epidemiological analyses suggest the subsequent spread of PDV from the epicentre in the Kattegat, Denmark, to haul-out sites in the North Sea through several independent introductions.

TidsskriftDiseases of Aquatic Organisms
Sider (fra-til)47-56
Antal sider10
StatusUdgivet - feb. 2019


  • Morbillivirus, epidemc, viral phylogeny, virus evolution, wildlife pathogen

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