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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

    DAO prepress abstract   -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03784

    Molecular characterization of Cetacean poxviruses along the coast of mainland Portugal

    Diana Vieira Jorge*, Marisa Ferreira, Catarina Eira, Margarida Duarte, Fernanda Ramos, Teresa Fagulha, Silvia Barros, Margarida MourĂ£o, Tiago Luis, Maria Carolina Bento, Ana Duarte

    *Corresponding author:

    ABSTRACT: Cetacean poxvirus (CePV) is the causative agent of Tattoo Skin Disease (TSD) in dolphins, porpoises and whales, a condition characterized by pinhole, ring-like lesions or generalized tattoo-like skin lesions. This study genetically characterized cetacean poxviruses from stranded animals along mainland Portugal. Samples from skin lesions compatible with TSD were obtained from four odontocete species (Delphinus delphis, Stenella coeruleoalba, Phocoena phocoena, and Tursiops truncatus), and analyzed using a conventional PCR assay targeting the DNA polymerase gene partially. Among the positive samples (n=29, 65.9%), a larger DNA polymerase gene fragment was obtained, allowing a robust phylogenetic analysis. Nineteen samples (43.2%) were successfully amplified and sequenced using Sanger sequencing. By combining eleven of these sequences with those from public databases, a Maximum Likelihood phylogenetic tree was constructed, revealing high heterogeneity within the group. These findings contribute to a better understanding of the genetic diversity, epidemiology, phylogenetics, and evolution of CePV.