The Simbu serogroup within the genus Orthobunyavirus belongs to the family Peribunyaviridae and comprises 32 recognised three-segmented negative-sense single-stranded RNA viruses, with a cosmopolitan distribution. This group of arthropod-borne viruses includes important pathogens of humans and domestic animals e.g. Oropouche orthobunyavirus and Schmallenberg virus. Sensitive and specific diagnostic tools are required for recognition and control of outbreaks. A novel TaqMan® RT-qPCR assay was developed, optimised and analytically validated for the broad detection of the Simbu serogroup orthobunyaviruses.
A region in the S segment, which encodes the nucleocapsid protein, was used to design a group primer set and a pair of differently labelled TaqMan® minor groove binder probes to distinguish phylogenetic clade A and B of the serogroup. Efficiencies determined for seven members of the group were 99% for Akabane orthobunyavirus (AKAV), 96% for Simbu orthobunyavirus (SIMV), 96% for Shuni orthobunyavirus (SHUV), 97% for Sathuperi orthobunyavirus (SATV), 84% for Shamonda orthobunyavirus (SHAV), 93% for Ingwavuma virus (INGV, now classified as Manzanilla orthobunyavirus) and 110% for Sabo virus (SABOV, now classified as AKAV). The 95% limit of detection (TCID50/reaction) was 10-3.61 for AKAV, 10-2.38 for SIMV, 10-3.42 for SHUV, 10-3.32