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Mammals Preferred: Reassortment of Batai and Bunyamwera orthobunyavirus Occurs in Mammalian but Not Insect Cells

Reassortment is a viral genome-segment recomposition known for many viruses, including the orthobunyaviruses. The co-infection of a host cell with two viruses of the same serogroup, such as the Bunyamwera orthobunyavirus and the Batai orthobunyavirus, can give rise to novel viruses. One example is the Ngari virus, which has caused major outbreaks of human infections in Central Africa. This study aimed to investigate the potential for reassortment of Bunyamwera orthobunyavirus and the Batai orthobunyavirus during co-infection studies and the replication properties of the reassortants in different mammalian and insect cell lines. In the co-infection studies, a Ngari-like virus reassortant and a novel reassortant virus, the Batunya virus, arose in BHK-21 cells (Mesocricetus auratus). In contrast, no reassortment was observed in the examined insect cells from Aedes aegypti (Aag2) and Aedes albopictus (U4.4 and C6/36). The growth kinetic experiments show that both reassortants are replicated to higher titers in some mammalian cell lines than the parental viruses but show impaired growth in insect cell lines.

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