Inter-Research > DAO > v87 > n3 > p161-169  
Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 87:161-169 (2009)  -  DOI:

Surveillance for infectious salmon anaemia virus HPR0 in marine Atlantic salmon farms across Scotland

Alastair J. A. McBeath, Nicola Bain, Michael Snow*

Marine Scotland Marine Laboratory, PO Box 101, Victoria Road, Aberdeen, AB11 9DB, UK
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: Infectious salmon anaemia virus (ISAV) is a serious and commercially important pathogen of Atlantic salmon. Multiple viruses have been defined based on a highly polymorphic region (HPR) of the haemagglutinin-esterase (HE) protein encoded by genomic segment 6. The viruses causing disease outbreaks in farms to date all have deletions in this region with respect to a putative ancestral variant with a longer HPR (HPR0). The presence of HPR0 nucleic acid has been detected in many countries including Scotland, where it has mostly been associated with healthy wild and farmed fish. Pathogenic ISAVs appear to have been derived from HPR0 ancestors on multiple independent occasions, which suggests that the presence of HPR0 could represent a risk factor in the re-emergence of infectious salmon anaemia (ISA) disease. In order to better understand this potential risk factor, anonymous samples of gill and heart tissues from marine Atlantic salmon farms throughout Scotland were collected and screened for the presence of ISAV RNA. Since it has not been possible to isolate HPR0 in conventional ISA-permissive cell cultures, a sensitive real-time RT-PCR method was employed for the detection of viral RNA. DNA sequencing was carried out on the positive samples to determine their HPR sequence. ISAV RNA was detected in 6 samples originating from 4 different locations and sequence analysis indicated the viruses were of the HPR0 type. Full length segment 6 sequence analysis of 1 positive sample indicated that it was most similar to a European genotype sequence previously obtained from North America.

KEY WORDS: Infectious salmon anaemia virus · HPR0 · Scotland · Real-time PCR · Segment 6 · Phylogeny · Salmo salar

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Cite this article as: McBeath AJA, Bain N, Snow M (2009) Surveillance for infectious salmon anaemia virus HPR0 in marine Atlantic salmon farms across Scotland. Dis Aquat Org 87:161-169.

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