Despite significant advances made in the understanding of its epidemiology, foot and mouth disease virus (FMDV) is among the most unexpected agricultural devastating plagues. While the disease manifests itself as seven immunologically distinct strains their origin, population dynamics, migration patterns and divergence times remain unknown. Herein we have assembled a comprehensive data set of gene sequences representing the global diversity of the disease and inferred the time-scale and evolutionary history for FMDV. Serotype-specific rates of evolution and divergence times were estimated using a Bayesian coalescent framework. We report that an ancient precursor FMDV gave rise to two major diversification events spanning a relatively short interval of time. This radiation event is estimated to have taken place towards the end of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th century giving us the present circulating Euro-Asiatic and South African viral strains. Furthermore our results hint that Europe acted as a possible hub for the disease from where it successfully dispersed elsewhere via exploration and trading routes.
Trinity College Dublin ->