Genomic analysis illustrated a single introduction and evolution of israeli bluetongue serotype 8 virus population 2008–2019

Natalia Golender*, Avi Eldar, Marcelo Ehrlich, Gabriel Kenigswald, Ily Shlamovitz, Boris Even-Tov, Lior Zamir, Eyal Klement*, Velizar Bumbarov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Outbreaks of the European Bluetongue virus (BTV) serotype 8 (BTV-8), which are characterized by activity cycles separated by years of inactivity, may be influenced by genetic changes of the virus or by herd immunity. BTV activity in Israel is characterized by similar dynamics, but differs from European countries in its vector population, environmental conditions, and lack of cattle vaccination against this serotype. Comparison of these two geographical systems and characterization of their epidemiological connection is therefore of high interest in-order to better understand the factors influencing BTV-8 evolution. BTV-8, closely related to the European strain, was introduced to Israel in 2008. It was at the center of BT outbreaks in 2010 and 2015–2016 and thereafter was lastly isolated in Israel in 2019. We performed genetic analyses of twelve BTV-8 Israeli strains isolated between 2008 and 2019 and compared them with published sequences of BTV-8 isolated in other countries. The analysis revealed a single introduction of BTV-8 into Israel and thereafter extensive occurrence of genomic drifts and multiple reassortments with local BTV strains. Comparison of the Israeli and Cypriot BTV-8 from 2015 to 2016 suggests transmission of the virus between the two countries and a separate and parallel development from European or other Israeli BTV-8 strains. The parallel development of other BTV-8 strains was demonstrated by the identification of the Israeli BTV-8 ISR-1194/1/19 strain, which exhibited common origin with reassorted Israeli BTV8 strains from 2010 and additional reassortment of seven segments. In order to reveal the source of BTV-8 introduction into Israel we performed BEAST analysis which showed that a probable common ancestor for both European and Israeli BTV-8 presumably existed in 2003–2004. In 2019, a possible new introduction occurred in Israel, where a novel BTV-8 strain was detected, sharing ~95% identity by segments 2 and 6 with Nigerian BTV-8NIG1982/07 and European–Middle Eastern strains. The results of the study indicate that Israel and neighboring countries consist a separate environmental and evolutionary system, distinct from European ones.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number1955
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Bluetongue virus
  • Descriptive epidemiology
  • Diagnostics
  • Orbivirus
  • Outbreak
  • Phylogenetic analysis
  • Reoviridae
  • Sequencing


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