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Molecular Characterization of Porcine Sapoviruses and Noroviruses

Research Scholar

Zufan Sisay Worku, Veterinary Preventive Medicine (Ethiopia)
Qiuhong Wang, Co-Researcher
Linda J. Saif, Faculty Mentor


Zufan Sisay Worku is a PhD student from the Department of Biology, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia. She graduated from Addis Ababa University in biomedical sciences. Her master's thesis was on the chemokine profile of HIV infected individuals, and her PhD research is on the molecular epidemiology of enteric viruses (animal and human) of zoonotic potential. Zufan is also a staff member of the Aklilu Lemma Institute of Pathobiology at Addis Ababa, where she is engaged in teaching, as well as research on microbial pathogens in particular viruses of the country's public and animal health importance.

What is the issue or problem addressed in your research?

Viral gastroenteritis is a major public health problem worldwide, and the enteric caliciviruses (norovirus – NoV and sapovirus – SaV) are responsible for most of the reported cases. Sapovirus (SaV) and Norovirus (NoV) identified in humans and pigs have heterogeneous genome sequences.

What methodology did you use in your research?

The aim of this study was to detect and characterize potential genogroups of porcine sapoviruses and noroviruses from swine population of different farms in Wooster, Ohio, during fiscal year 2012. Fecal samples (n=145) from nursing piglets were screened for caliciviruses by Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) using different genogroup specific and universal primers. Phylogenetic analyses were conducted using sequences of the partial RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) region. Genetically heterogeneous sapoviruses representing five different genogroups including the new emerging ones were detected, the dominant SaV being genogroup GIII. However, no NoV has been detected in this study. This is in agreement with the previous study from our laboratory which detected noroviruses from finisher pigs but not from nursing pigs.

What are the purpose/rationale and implications of your research?

The findings from this study indicated that genetic diversification of porcine SaV, which is one of the characteristics of this virus, is currently progressing in the swine population in USA. This might necessitate continues surveillance of porcine sapoviruses in swine herds.