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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 135:49-58 (2019)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03378

Viral encephalopathy and retinopathy (VER) disease in Epinephelus marginatus from the Balearic Islands marine protected areas

Jose Maria Valencia1,2, Amalia Grau1,2, Tobia Pretto3, Joan Pons4, Jose Antonio Jurado-Rivera5, Jose Aurelio Castro5, Anna Toffan3, Gaetano Catanese1,2,*

1Laboratori d’Investigacions Marines i Aqüicultura, LIMIA - Govern de les Illes Balears, Av. Gabriel Roca 69, 07158 Port d’Andratx, Spain
2Instituto de Investigaciones Agroambientales y de Economía del Agua, INAGEA (INIA-CAIB-UIB), Ctra. Valldemossa km. 7,5 Ed. Edifici Guillem Colom Casasnoves, 07122 Palma de Mallorca, Spain
3Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie, OIE Reference Laboratory for Viral Encephalopathy and Retinopathy, Viale dell’Università 10, 35020 Legnaro (Padova), Italy
4Institut Mediterrani d’Estudis Avançats IMEDEA (UIB-CSIC), Miquel Marquès 21, 07190 Esporles, Spain
5Laboratori de Genètica, Departament de Biologia, Universitat de les Illes Balears, Campus de la UIB, Ctra. Valldemossa km. 7,5, 07122 Palma de Mallorca, Spain
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: This is the first description of a betanodavirus infection in the dusky grouper Epinephelus marginatus within the marine protected areas (MPAs) of the Balearic Islands. Histopathology techniques were employed to describe neurological lesions in infected fish. Abnormal swimming, mortality, and neurological lesions were detected in all analysed grouper individuals. Virus particles were observed by means of transmission electron microscopy. Reverse transcription of RNA1 and RNA2 followed by cDNA amplification and sequencing allowed viral classification. Phylogenetic analysis showed the isolates from wild E. marginatus of the Balearic Islands MPAs to be closely related to Dicentrarchus labrax and Mullus barbatus strains from Cyprus and Italy. Although vertical transmission from infected spawners has been described as the major route for nodavirus infection, we point out in this work that horizontal transmission among sub-clinical fishes after migration or commercial import for aquaculture production could play a major role in the spreading of the disease in MPAs.


KEY WORDS: Epinephelus marginatus · Marine protected areas · Betanodavirus · Viral encephalopathy and retinopathy


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Cite this article as: Valencia JM, Grau A, Pretto T, Pons J and others (2019) Viral encephalopathy and retinopathy (VER) disease in Epinephelus marginatus from the Balearic Islands marine protected areas. Dis Aquat Org 135:49-58. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03378

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