Strain variation in an emerging iridovirus of warm-water fishes

J Virol. 2003 Aug;77(16):8812-8. doi: 10.1128/jvi.77.16.8812-8818.2003.


Although iridoviruses vary widely within and among genera with respect to their host range and virulence, variation within iridovirus species has been less extensively characterized. This study explores the nature and extent of intraspecific variation within an emerging iridovirus of North American warm-water fishes, largemouth bass virus (LMBV). Three LMBV isolates recovered from three distinct sources differed genetically and phenotypically. Genetically, the isolates differed in the banding patterns generated from amplified fragment length polymorphism analysis but not in their DNA sequences at two loci of different degrees of evolutionary stability. In vitro, the isolates replicated at identical rates in cell culture, as determined by real-time quantitative PCR of viral particles released into suspension. In vivo, the isolates varied over fivefold in virulence, as measured by the rate at which they induced mortality in juvenile largemouth bass. This variation was reflected in the viral loads of exposed fish, measured using real-time quantitative PCR; the most virulent viral strain also replicated to the highest level in fish. Together, these results justify the designation of these isolates as different strains of LMBV. Strain variation in iridoviruses could help explain why animal populations naturally infected with iridovirus pathogens vary so extensively in their clinical responses to infection. The results of this study are especially relevant to emerging iridoviruses of aquaculture systems and wildlife.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA Primers
  • Fishes / virology*
  • Iridovirus / classification*
  • Iridovirus / genetics
  • Iridovirus / physiology
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Species Specificity
  • Virus Replication


  • DNA Primers