Mar 27, 2015
The complex and unresolved evolutionary origins of the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic exposed major gaps in our knowledge of the global spatial ecology and evolution of influenza A viruses in swine (swIAVs). Here we undertake an expansive phylogenetic analysis of swIAV sequence data and demonstrate that the global live swine trade strongly predicts the spatial dissemination of swIAVs, with Europe and North America acting as sources of viruses in Asian countries. In contrast, China has the world's largest swine population but is not a major exporter of live swine, and is not an important source of swIAVs in neighbouring Asian countries or globally. A meta-population simulation model incorporating trade data predicts that the global ecology of swIAVs is more complex than previously thought, and the United States and China's large swine populations are unlikely to be representative of swIAV diversity in their respective geographic regions, requiring independent surveillance efforts throughout Latin America and Asia.