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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 50:111-118 (2002)  -  doi:10.3354/dao050111

Isolation and molecular characterization of herpesvirus from cultured European eels Anguilla anguilla in Taiwan

Pen Heng Chang1,*, Yie Hour Pan1, Chein Ming Wu2, Shu Ting Kuo3, Huu Yun Chung4

1 Department of Veterinary Medicine, College of Agriculture, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan, ROC
2 Tau-Yang Livestock Disease Control Center, Tauyang, Taiwan, ROC
3 National Institute for Animal Health, Tansui, Taiwan, ROC
4 Department of Zoology, College of Science, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan, ROC

ABSTRACT: A herpesvirus has been isolated for the first time from a population of European eels Anguilla anguilla cultured in a recirculated system in Taiwan. Syncytia formation was detected in EP-1 (eel epidermis) cell cultures inoculated with cell-free homogenates prepared from both integument and visceral organs of moribund fish. Inoculation of homogenates onto EK (eel kidney) cell cultures induced giant cell formation. Subsequent passages produced a consistent and progressive cytopathic effect (CPE) in cell cultures. In this study, EP-1 cell cultures infected with EEHV (European eel herpesvirus) were examined using an electron microscope. Numerous nucleocapsids of about 100 nm in diameter were found within the nucleus of infected cells, whereas enveloped particles were observed within the cytoplasm. The mature viral particle, about 235 nm in diameter, had an electron-dense core with a hexagonal nucleocapsid surrounded by a coarse capsule. Histopathological examination of moribund fish showed epithelial hyperplasia with intracytoplasmic metabolic inclusions in the skin. Macrophage aggregates were found in liver, spleen, and kidney. A pair of primers designed from channel catfish virus and salmonid herpesvirus 1 was used in a polymerase chain reaction. A 402 bp fragment was amplified and cloned from genomic DNA of EEHV. The nucleotide homology was 99% (298 of 300) with DNA polymerase of eel herpesvirus (anguillid herpesvirus). EEHV nucleic acids were detected within melanomacrophages in the skin, liver, spleen and kidney by in situ hybridization (ISH).

KEY WORDS: Virus isolation · Molecular characterization · In situ hybridization · Herpesvirus · European eel · Anguilla anguilla

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