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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 98:41-56 (2012)  -  DOI:

Systemic iridovirus from threespine stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus represents a new megalocytivirus species (family Iridoviridae)

Thomas B. Waltzek1,6,*, Gary D. Marty2, Michael E. Alfaro3, William R. Bennett4, Kyle A. Garver4, Martin Haulena5, E. Scott Weber III1, Ronald P. Hedrick1

1Department of Medicine and Epidemiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, California 95616, USA
2Animal Health Centre, Ministry of Agriculture, 1767 Angus Campbell Rd., Abbotsford, British Columbia V3G 2M3, Canada
3Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095-1606, USA
4Pacific Biological Station, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 3190 Hammond Bay Rd., Nanaimo, British Columbia V9T 6N7, Canada
5Vancouver Aquarium, PO Box 3232, Vancouver, British Columbia V6B 3X8, Canada
6Present address: Department of Environmental and Global Health, College of Public Health and Health Professions, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611, USA

ABSTRACT: Megalocytiviruses have been associated with epizootics resulting in significant economic losses in public aquaria and food-fish and ornamental fish industries, as well as threatening wild fish stocks. The present report describes characteristics of the first megalocytivirus from a wild temperate North American fish, the threespine stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus. Moribund and dead fish sampled after transfer to quarantine for an aquarium exhibit had amphophilic to basophilic intracytoplasmic inclusions (histopathology) and icosahedral virions (transmission electron microscopy) consistent with an iridovirus infection. Phylogenetic analyses of the major capsid, ATPase, and DNA polymerase genes confirmed the virus as the first known member of the genus Megalocytivirus (family Iridoviridae) from a gasterosteid fish. The unique biologic and genetic properties of this virus are sufficient to establish a new Megalocytivirus species to be formally known as the threespine stickleback iridovirus (TSIV). The threespine stickleback is widely distributed throughout the northern hemisphere in both freshwater and estuarine environments. The presence of megalocytiviruses with broad host specificity and detrimental economic and ecologic impacts among such a widely dispersed fish species indicates the need for sampling of other stickleback populations as well as other North American sympatric marine and freshwater ichthyofauna.

KEY WORDS: Iridovirus · Megalocytivirus · Threespine stickleback · Phylogeny

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Cite this article as: Waltzek TB, Marty GD, Alfaro ME, Bennett WR and others (2012) Systemic iridovirus from threespine stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus represents a new megalocytivirus species (family Iridoviridae). Dis Aquat Org 98:41-56.

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