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Characterization of a virulent ranavirus isolated from marine ornamental fish in India

Sivasankar, P., John, K.Riji, George, M.Rosalind, Mageshkumar, P., Manzoor, M.Mohamed, Jeyaseelan, M.J. Prince
Virusdisease 2017 v.28 no.4 pp. 373-382
DNA, Lates calcarifer, Pomacentrus, Santee-Cooper ranavirus, blood serum, cell culture, cell lines, chloroform, coat proteins, fingerlings, freshwater fish, genes, heat treatment, host range, koi, marine fish, mortality, neutralization, ornamental fish, pellets, polymerase chain reaction, sequence homology, structural proteins, transmission electron microscopy, virion, virulence, India
A viral agent implicated in the mortality of marine ornamental “Similar Damselfish” (Pomacentrus similis Allen, 1991) was isolated and characterized. The virus grew well in marine and freshwater fish cell lines from seabass and snakehead. The virus was sensitive to chloroform, acidic pH (3.0) and heat treatment at 56 °C. Biochemical characterisation indicated that the virus had double stranded DNA genome. Transmission electron microscopic analysis of ultrathin sections of infected cell pellets showed iridovirus-like icosahedral virus particles of 120–130 nm. Purified virus had six structural protein bands that ranged from of 44 to 132 kDa. PCR analysis confirmed the presence of viral DNA in infected cell cultures and sequence analysis of the major capsid protein gene showed an identity of 99.82% to that of largemouth bass virus. Serum neutralization studies involving the viral agent and koi ranavirus (KIRV) indicated partial homogeneity between the two isolates. Experimental infection of seabass (Lates calcarifer) and similar damselfish (P. similis) fingerlings with the similar damselfish virus showed cumulative mortalities of 68.75 and 93.33%. The biophysical and biochemical properties of the viral agent isolated, serological characteristics, size of major capsid proteins and the sequence similarity of the MCP gene proved that the virus belongs to the genus Ranavirus of the family Iridoviridae. Ability of the virus to grow in marine and freshwater fish cell lines and its pathogenicity to one of the cultivable marine fish shows the wide host range of the virus. This is the first report of ranavirus induced mortality in marine fish in India.