Domestic ducks in southern China act as an important reservoir for influenza viruses and have also facilitated the establishment of multiple H6 influenza virus lineages. To understand the continuing evolution of these established lineages, 297 H6 viruses isolated from domestic ducks during 2006 and 2007 were genetically and antigenically analyzed. Phylogenetic analyses showed that group II duck H6 viruses had replaced the previously predominant group I lineage and extended their geographic distribution from coastal to inland regions. Group II H6 virus showed that the genesis and development of multiple types of deletions in the neuraminidase (NA) stalk region could occur in the influenza viruses from domestic ducks. A gradual replacement of the N2 NA subtype with N6 was observed. Significant antigenic changes occurred within group II H6 viruses so that they became antigenically distinguishable from group I and gene pool viruses. Gene exchange between group II H6 viruses and the established H5N1, H9N2, or H6N1 virus lineages in poultry in the region was very limited. These findings suggest that domestic ducks can facilitate significant genetic and antigenic changes in viruses established in this host and highlight gaps in our knowledge of influenza virus ecology and even the evolutionary behavior of this virus family in its aquatic avian reservoirs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science