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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 148:73-86 (2022)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03645

Effect of water temperature on frog virus 3 disease in hatchery-reared pallid sturgeon Scaphirhynchus albus

Natalie K. Stilwell1,2,*, Salvatore Frasca Jr.3, Lisa L. Farina4, Kuttichantran Subramaniam1, Kamonchai Imnoi1, Pedro H. Viadanna1, Lacey Hopper5, Jeffrey Powell6, James Colee7, Thomas B. Waltzek1

1Department of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610, USA
2Department of Pathobiology and Population Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, Mississippi State University, Starkville, MS 39760, USA
3Department of Pathobiology and Veterinary Science, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269, USA
4Department of Comparative, Diagnostic, and Population Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610, USA
5US Fish and Wildlife Service, Bozeman Fish Health Center, Bozeman, MT 59718, USA
6US Fish and Wildlife Service, Gavins Point National Fish Hatchery, Yankton, SD 57078, USA
7Statistics Consulting Unit, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Ranaviruses are large double-stranded DNA viruses within the genus Ranavirus (family Iridoviridae) that are being detected with increasing frequency among aquacultured and wild fishes. In the USA, multiple sturgeon hatcheries have experienced ranavirus epizootics resulting in significant morbidity and mortality in young-of-year (YOY). Significant economic losses have resulted from repeated outbreaks of frog virus 3 (FV3), the type species for the genus Ranavirus, in YOY pallid sturgeon Scaphirhynchus albus reared at a hatchery within the Missouri River Basin. Water temperature and stocking density are known to influence the severity of ranavirus disease in ectothermic vertebrates. To determine the effect of water temperature on ranavirus disease in hatchery-raised S. albus, we conducted FV3 challenges at 2 temperatures (17 and 23°C) and compared cumulative survival over a 28 d study period. A mean (±SE) survival rate of 57.5 ± 13.2% was observed in replicate tanks of sturgeon maintained at 23°C, whereas no mortality was observed among sturgeon maintained at 17°C. In a second challenge study, we compared the effect of water temperature on disease progression by regularly sampling fish over the study period and evaluating lesions by histopathology and in situ hybridization, and by assessing viral titer and load in external and internal tissues using virus isolation and qPCR, respectively. Results suggest that temperature manipulation may be an effective mitigation strategy that sturgeon hatcheries can employ to minimize ranavirus-associated disease.


KEY WORDS: Sturgeon · Frog virus 3 · Ranavirus · Aquaculture


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Cite this article as: Stilwell NK, Frasca S Jr, Farina LL, Subramaniam K and others (2022) Effect of water temperature on frog virus 3 disease in hatchery-reared pallid sturgeon Scaphirhynchus albus. Dis Aquat Org 148:73-86. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03645

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