DAO 93:31-42 (2010)  -  doi:10.3354/dao02284

Development of PCR assays to detect iridovirus infections among captive and wild populations of Missouri River sturgeon

T. Kurobe1, K. T. Kwak1, E. MacConnell2, T. S. McDowell1, F. O. Mardones3, R. P. Hedrick1,*

1Department of Medicine and Epidemiology, and 3Center for Animal Disease Modeling and Surveillance (CADMS), School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, California 95616, USA
2US Fish and Wildlife Service, Fish Health Center, Bozeman, Montana 59715, USA
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: The Missouri River sturgeon iridovirus (MRSIV) is an important factor contributing to losses during the hatchery rearing of juvenile pallid Scaphirhynchus albus and shovelnose S. platorynchus sturgeon. As the virus has not been isolated in cell culture, current detection procedures rely upon a combination of light and electron microscopy. Detection of characteristic virus-infected cells in the integument, usually of the fins, in hematoxylin and eosin (H&E)-stained tissue sections provides a presumptive finding. Confirmation requires observation by electron microscopy of characteristic doubly enveloped hexagonal virions of the appropriate size in the host cell cytoplasm. To improve these diagnostic procedures, a conventional polymerase chain reduction (PCR) assay was developed as a sensitive and specific method for detection of MRSIV DNA as found in numerous tissues of both naturally and experimentally infected pallid and shovelnose sturgeon. Sequences of amplicons obtained from testing of wild-caught shovelnose sturgeon and juvenile pallid sturgeon during hatchery outbreaks were identical, suggesting that the viruses found in both sturgeon are similar or closely related. In addition, a TaqMan PCR was developed that allowed estimates of the concentrations of MRSIV DNA present in the tissues of pallid and shovelnose sturgeon during acute and persistent infection. These new PCR assays are improved methods to detect MRSIV, but equally importantly, they provide insights into to the biology of the agent for more effective management of viral diseases in captive and wild Missouri River sturgeon populations.


KEY WORDS: Fish iridovirus · Pallid sturgeon · Shovelnose sturgeon · Missouri River sturgeon iridovirus · MRSIV · Diagnostic PCR · Real-time PCR


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Cite this article as: Kurobe T, Kwak KT, MacConnell E, McDowell TS, Mardones FO, Hedrick RP (2010) Development of PCR assays to detect iridovirus infections among captive and wild populations of Missouri River sturgeon. Dis Aquat Org 93:31-42

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