Evolutionary and ecological drivers shape the emergence and extinction of foot-and-mouth disease virus lineages

Livestock farming across the world is constantly threatened by evolutionary turnover of foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) strains in endemic systems, the underlying dynamics of which remain to be elucidated. Here, we map the eco-evolutionary landscape of co-circulating FMDV lineages within an important endemic virus pool encompassing Western, Central and parts of Southern Asia, reconstructing the evolutionary history and spatial dynamics over the last 20 years that shapes the current epidemiological situation. We demonstrate that new FMDV variants periodically emerge from Southern Asia, precipitating waves of virus incursions that systematically travel in a westerly direction. We evidence how metapopulation dynamics drive the emergence and extinction of spatially structured virus populations, and how transmission in different host species regulates the evolutionary space of virus serotypes. Our work provides the first integrative framework that defines co-evolutionary signatures of FMDV in regional contexts to help understand the complex interplay between virus phenotypes, host characteristics, and key epidemiological determinants of transmission that drive FMDV evolution in endemic settings.

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