DAO 49:83-92 (2002)  -  doi:10.3354/dao049083

Experimental challenge and clinical cases of Bohle iridovirus (BIV) in native Australian anurans

B. R. Cullen*, L. Owens

Microbiology and Immunology, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia

ABSTRACT: Ranaviruses have been observed with increasing frequency amongst poikilothermic vertebrate hosts. The impact of ranaviruses upon amphibian populations has remained largely unknown. A gene probe for Bohle iridovirus (BIV) based upon primers designed to detect epizootic haematopoietic necrosis virus (EHNV) was constructed. A PCR and dot-blot system was used successfully in screening for the presence of BIV nucleic acid in digested formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded amphibian tissues. Juvenile frogs were more susceptible to BIV than adults. In experimental challenges and epizootics in captive frogs, juvenile Litoria caerulea, L. alboguttata, Cyclorana brevipes and Pseudophryne coriacea were acutely susceptible. High mortality (at or near 100%) resulted, usually occurring within 5 to 25 d depending on dose and method of exposure. Histopathological changes included mainly hepatic, renal and splenic necroses. Significant haemosiderosis was encountered in more chronically infected frogs. BIV could be reisolated from juvenile L. caerulea >40 d after inoculation, and >200 d after the first mortalities occurred in an epizootic in L. alboguttata. Adult L. rubella, L. inermis, L. caerulea, Cophixalus ornatus and Taudactylus acutirostris were less susceptible in trials ranging from 30 to >100 d. There was some evidence of chronic infection, and BIV could be detected by PCR. Wild moribund adult L. caerulea from Townsville and captive juvenile Pseudophryne corieacea from Sydney undergoing mortality tested positive with the BIV PCR. PCR and dot blot was more sensitive than viral isolation. PCR could detect BIV in amphibians long after BIV challenge, and in amphibians which appeared healthy. Ranaviruses could be having an impact on Australian herpetofauna.


KEY WORDS: Ranavirus · Iridovirus · Amphibian mortality · Decline · Amphibian disease


Full text in pdf format