Assessing Reassortment between Bluetongue Virus Serotypes 10 and 17 at Different Coinfection Ratios in Culicoides sonorenesis

Carpenter M, Kopanke J, Lee J, Rodgers C, Reed K, Sherman TJ, Graham B, Stenglein M, Mayo C 2024. Viruses


Bluetongue virus (BTV) is a segmented, double-stranded RNA orbivirus listed by the World Organization for Animal Health and transmitted by Culicoides biting midges. Segmented viruses can reassort, which facilitates rapid and important genotypic changes. Our study evaluated reassortment in Culicoides sonorensis midges coinfected with different ratios of BTV-10 and BTV-17. Midges were fed blood containing BTV-10, BTV-17, or a combination of both serotypes at 90:10, 75:25, 50:50, 25:75, or 10:90 ratios. Midges were collected every other day and tested for infection using pan BTV and cox1 (housekeeping gene) qRT-PCR. A curve was fit to the ∆Ct values (pan BTV Ct-cox1 Ct) for each experimental group. On day 10, the midges were processed for BTV plaque isolation. Genotypes of the plaques were determined by next-generation sequencing. Pairwise comparison of ∆Ct curves demonstrated no differences in viral RNA levels between coinfected treatment groups. Plaque genotyping indicated that most plaques fully aligned with one of the parental strains; however, reassortants were detected, and in the 75:25 pool, most plaques were reassortant. Reassortant prevalence may be maximized upon the occurrence of reassortant genotypes that can outcompete the parental genotypes. BTV reassortment and resulting biological consequences are important elements to understanding orbivirus emergence and evolution.