DAO 111:129-138 (2014)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02774

Persistence of an amphibian ranavirus in aquatic communities

A. F. Johnson, J. L. Brunner*

School of Biological Sciences, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington 99164, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Host–parasite dynamics can be strongly influenced by interactions with other members of the biotic community, particularly when the parasite spends some fraction of its life in the environment unprotected by its host. Ranaviruses—often lethal viruses of cold-blooded vertebrate hosts transmitted by direct contact, and via water and fomites—offer an interesting system for understanding these community influences. Previous laboratory studies have shown that ranaviruses can persist for anywhere from days to years, depending on the conditions, with much longer times under sterile conditions. To address the role of the biotic community and particulate matter on ranavirus persistence, we experimentally inoculated filter-sterilized, UV-treated, and unmanipulated pond water with a frog virus 3 (FV3)-like ranavirus and took samples over 78 d, quantifying viral titers with real-time quantitative PCR and plaque assays. Viral counts dropped quickly in all treatments, by an order of magnitude in under a day in unmanipulated pond water and in 8 d in filter-sterilized pond water. In a second experiment, we measured viral titers over 24 h in virus-spiked spring water with Daphnia pulex. Presence of D. pulex reduced the concentration of infectious ranavirus, but not viral DNA, by an order of magnitude in 24 h. D. pulex themselves did not accumulate the virus. We conclude that both microbial and zooplanktonic communities can play an important role in ranavirus epidemiology, rapidly inactivating ranavirus in the water and thereby minimizing environmental transmission. We suspect that interactions with the biotic community will be important for most pathogens with environmental resting or transmission stages.


KEY WORDS: Ranavirus · Persistence · Indirect transmission · Microbial community · Zooplankton · Environmental DNA


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Cite this article as: Johnson AF, Brunner JL (2014) Persistence of an amphibian ranavirus in aquatic communities. Dis Aquat Org 111:129-138. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02774

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