The capsid genes from 14 pigeon circovirus (PiCV) sequences, collected from Taiwan between 2009 and 2010, were sequenced and compared with 14 PiCV capsid gene sequences from GenBank. Based on pairwise comparison, PiCV strains from Taiwan shared 73.9-100% nucleotide identity and 72-100% amino acid identity with those of the 14 reported PiCV sequences. Phylogenetic analyses revealed that Taiwanese PiCV isolates can be grouped into two clades: clade 1 comprising isolates from Belgium, Australia, USA, Italy and China, and clade 2 showing close relation to isolates from Germany and France. Recurrent positive selection was detected in clade 1 PiCV lineages, which may contribute to the diversification of predominant PiCV sequences in Taiwan. Further observations suggest that synonymous codon usage variations between PiCV clade 1 and clade 2 may reflect the adaptive divergence on translation efficiency of capsid genes in infectious hosts. Variation in selective pressures acting on the evolutionary divergence and codon usage bias of both clades explains the regional coexistence of virus sequences congeners prevented from competitive exclusion within an island such as Taiwan. Our genotyping results also provide insight into the aetiological agents of PiCV outbreak in Taiwan and we present a comparative analysis of the central coding region of PiCV genome. From the sequence comparison results of 28 PiCVs which differs in regard to the geographical origin and columbid species, we identified conserved regions within the capsid gene that are likely to be suitable for primer selection and vaccine development.
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