Open Access Research article

Evolutionary analysis of foot-and-mouth disease virus serotype SAT 1 isolates from east africa suggests two independent introductions from southern africa

Abraham K Sangula14*, Graham J Belsham2, Vincent B Muwanika1, Rasmus Heller3, Sheila N Balinda1, Charles Masembe1 and Hans R Siegismund3

Author Affiliations

1 Makerere University, Institute of Environment and Natural Resources, Molecular Biology Laboratory, P. O. Box 7298, Kampala, Uganda

2 National Veterinary Institute, Technical University of Denmark, Lindholm, DK-4771 Kalvehave, Denmark

3 Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Ole Maaløes Vej 5, DK-2200, Copenhagen N, Denmark

4 Foot-and-Mouth Disease Laboratory, Embakasi, P. O. Box 18021, 00500, Nairobi, Kenya

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BMC Evolutionary Biology 2010, 10:371  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-10-371

Published: 30 November 2010



In East Africa, foot-and-mouth disease virus serotype SAT 1 is responsible for occasional severe outbreaks in livestock and is known to be maintained within the buffalo populations. Little is known about the evolutionary forces underlying its epidemiology in the region. To enhance our appreciation of the epidemiological status of serotype SAT 1 virus in the region, we inferred its evolutionary and phylogeographic history by means of genealogy-based coalescent methods using 53 VP1 coding sequences covering a sampling period from 1948-2007.


The VP1 coding sequence of 11 serotype SAT 1 FMD viruses from East Africa has been determined and compared with known sequences derived from other SAT 1 viruses from sub-Saharan Africa. Purifying (negative) selection and low substitution rates characterized the SAT 1 virus isolates in East Africa. Two virus groups with probable independent introductions from southern Africa were identified from a maximum clade credibility tree. One group was exclusive to Uganda while the other was present within Kenya and Tanzania.


Our results provide a baseline characterization of the inter-regional spread of SAT 1 in sub-Saharan Africa and highlight the importance of a regional approach to trans-boundary animal disease control in order to monitor circulating strains and apply appropriate vaccines.