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A New Multiplex Real-Time RT-PCR for Simultaneous Detection and Differentiation of Avian Bornaviruses

Avian bornaviruses were first described in 2008 as the causative agents of proventricular dilatation disease (PDD) in parrots and their relatives (Psittaciformes). To date, 15 genetically highly diverse avian bornaviruses covering at least five viral species have been discovered in different bird orders. Currently, the primary diagnostic tool is the detection of viral RNA by conventional or real-time RT-PCR (rRT-PCR). One of the drawbacks of this is the usage of either specific assays, allowing the detection of one particular virus, or of assays with a broad detection spectrum, which, however, do not allow for the simultaneous specification of the detected virus. To facilitate the simultaneous detection and specification of avian bornaviruses, a multiplex real-time RT-PCR assay was developed. Whole-genome sequences of various bornaviruses were aligned. Primers were designed to recognize conserved regions within the overlapping X/P gene and probes were selected to detect virus species-specific regions within the target region. The optimization of the assay resulted in the sensitive and specific detection of bornaviruses of Psittaciformes, Passeriformes, and aquatic birds. Finally, the new rRT-PCR was successfully employed to detect avian bornaviruses in field samples from various avian species. This assay will serve as powerful tool in epidemiological studies and will improve avian bornavirus detection.

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