DAO 106:197-206 (2013)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02660

Isolation and identification of a lethal rhabdovirus from farmed rice field eels Monopterus albus 

Tong Ou, Ruo-Lin Zhu, Zhong-Yuan Chen, Qi-Ya Zhang*

State Key Laboratory of Freshwater Ecology and Biotechnology, Institute of Hydrobiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan 430072, PR China
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: We provide the first description of a virus responsible for a systemic hemorrhagic disease causing high mortality in farmed rice field eels Monopterus albus in China. Typical signs exhibited by the diseased fish were extensive hemorrhages in the skin and viscera and some neurological signs, such as loss of equilibrium and disorganized swimming. Histopathological examination revealed various degrees of necrosis within the spleen and liver. Virus isolation was attempted from visceral tissues of diseased fish by inoculation on 6 fish cell lines. Typical cytopathic effects (CPE) were produced in bluegill fry (BF2) cells, so this cell line was chosen for further isolation and propagation of the virus. Electron microscopy observation showed that the negative stained viral particles had the characteristic bullet shape of rhabdoviruses and an estimated size of 60 × 120 nm. We therefore tentatively refer to this virus as Monopterus albus rhabdovirus (MoARV). Molecular characterization of MoARV, including sequence analysis of the nucleoprotein (N), phosphoprotein (P), and glycoprotein (G) genes, revealed 94.5 to 97.3% amino acid similarity to that of Siniperca chuatsi rhabdovirus. Phylogenetic analysis based on the amino acid sequences of N and G proteins indicated that MoARV should be a member of the genus Vesiculovirus. Koch’s postulates were fulfilled by infecting healthy rice field eels with MoARV, which produced an acute infection. RT-PCR analysis demonstrated that MoARV RNA could be detected in both naturally and experimentally infected fish. The data suggest that MoARV was the causative pathogen of the disease.


KEY WORDS: Fish viral disease · Rice field eel · Monopterus albus rhabdovirus · MoARV · Histopathology · Electron microscopy · Phylogenetic analysis


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Cite this article as: Ou T, Zhu RL, Chen ZY, Zhang QY (2013) Isolation and identification of a lethal rhabdovirus from farmed rice field eels Monopterus albus . Dis Aquat Org 106:197-206. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02660

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