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Feline calicivirus (FCV) is an important pathogen of domestic cats and a frequently used model of human caliciviruses. Here we use an epidemiologically rigorous sampling framework to describe for the first time the phylodynamics of a calicivirus at regional and national scales. A large number of FCV strains cocirculated in the United Kingdom at the national and community levels, with no strain comprising more than 5% and 14% of these populations, respectively. The majority of strains exhibited a relatively restricted geographical range, with only two strains (one field virus and one vaccine virus) spreading further than 100 km. None of the field strains were identified outside the United Kingdom. Temporally, while some strains persisted locally for the majority of the study, others may have become locally extinct. Evolutionary analysis revealed a radial phylogeny with little bootstrap support for nodes above the strain level. In most cases, spatially and temporally diverse strains intermingled in the phylogeny. Together, these data suggest that current FCV evolution is not associated with selective competition among strains. Rather, the genetic and antigenic landscape in each geographical location is highly complex, with many strains cocirculating. These variants likely exist at the community level by a combination of de novo evolution and occasional gene flow from the wider national population. This complexity provides a benchmark, for the first time, against which vaccine cross-protection at both local and national levels can be judged.

Original publication




Journal article


J Virol

Publication Date





11356 - 11367


Animals, Antibodies, Viral, Base Sequence, Caliciviridae Infections, Calicivirus, Feline, Cat Diseases, Cats, Cell Line, Cross-Sectional Studies, Genetic Variation, Longitudinal Studies, Molecular Epidemiology, Molecular Sequence Data, Phylogeny, RNA, Viral, Sequence Alignment, Sequence Analysis, RNA, United Kingdom, Vaccination, Viral Vaccines