Pigeon circovirus (PiCV) has a ~2 kb genome circular ssDNA genome. All but one of the known PiCV isolates have been found infecting pigeons in various parts of the world. In this study, we screened 324 swab and tissue samples from Polish pigeons and recovered 30 complete genomes, 16 of which came from birds displaying no obvious pathology. Together with 17 other publicly available PiCV complete genomes sampled throughout the Northern Hemisphere and Australia, we find that PiCV displays a similar degree of genetic diversity to that of the related psittacine-infecting circovirus species, beak and feather disease virus (BFDV). We show that, as is the case with its pathology and epidemiology, PiCV also displays patterns of recombination, genomic secondary structure and natural selection that are generally very similar to those of BFDV. It is likely that breeding facilities play a significant role in the emergence of new recombinant PiCV variants and given that ~50 % of the domestic pigeon population is infected subclinically, all pigeon breeding stocks should be screened routinely for this virus.
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