Infections of poultry with virulent strains of the Avian Paramyxovirus 1 (APMV-1), also known as Newcastle disease viruses (NDVs), cause the Newcastle disease (ND). This highly contagious disease affects poultry and many other species of birds worldwide. In countries where the disease is prevalent, constant monitoring and characterization of isolates causing outbreaks is necessary. In this study, we report the results of pathogenicity testing and phylogenetic analyses of seven NDVs isolated from several regions of Peru between 2004 and 2015. Six viruses had intracerebral pathogenicity indices (ICPI) of between 1.75 and 1.88, corresponding to a velogenic pathotype. The remaining virus had an ICPI of 0.00, corresponding to a lentogenic pathotype. These results were consistent with amino acid sequences at the fusion protein (F) cleavage site. All velogenic isolates had the polybasic amino acid sequence 112RRQKR↓F117 at the F cleavage site. Phylogenetic analyses of complete F gene sequences showed that all isolates are classified in class II of APMV-1. The velogenic viruses are classified in genotype XII, while the lentogenic virus is classified in genotype II, closely related to the LaSota vaccine strain. Moreover, tree topology, bootstrap values and genetic distances observed within genotype XII resulted in the identification of novel subgenotypes XIIa (in South America) and XIIb (in China), and possibly two clades within genotype XIIa. All velogenic Peruvian viruses belonged to the subgenotype XIIa. Overall, our results confirmed the presence of genotype XII in Peru and suggested that it is the prevalent genotype currently circulating in our country. The phylogenetic characterization of these isolates helps to characterize the evolution of NDV, and may help with the development of vaccines specific to our regional necessities.

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