The Megalocytivirus genus includes three genotypes, red sea bream iridovirus (RSIV), infectious spleen and kidney necrosis virus (ISKNV), and turbot reddish body iridovirus (TRBIV), and has caused mass mortalities in various marine and freshwater fish species in East and Southeast Asia. Of the three genotypes, TRBIV-like megalocytivirus is not included in the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE)-reportable virus list because of its geographic restriction and narrow host range. In 2017, 39 cases of suspected iridovirus infection were isolated from fingerlings of giant sea perch (Lates calcarifer) cultured in southern Taiwan during megalocytivirus epizootics. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) with different specific primer sets was undertaken to identify the causative agent. Our results revealed that 35 out of the 39 giant sea perch iridovirus (GSPIV) isolates were TRBIV-like megalocytiviruses. To further evaluate the genetic variation, the nucleotide sequences of major capsid protein (MCP) gene (1348 bp) from 12 of the 35 TRBIV-like megalocytivirus isolates were compared to those of other known. High nucleotide sequence identity showed that these 12 TRBIV-like GSPIV isolates are the same species. Phylogenetic analysis based on the MCP gene demonstrated that these 12 isolates belong to the clade II of TRBIV megalocytiviruses, and are distinct from RSIV and ISKNV. In conclusion, the GSPIV isolates belonging to TRBIV clade II megalocytiviruses have been introduced into Taiwan and caused a severe impact on the giant sea perch aquaculture industry.
Keywords: giant sea perch iridovirus (GSPIV); infectious spleen and kidney necrosis virus (ISKNV); iridovirus; megalocytivirus; phylogenetic analysis; polymerase chain reaction (PCR); red sea bream iridovirus (RSIV); turbot reddish body iridovirus (TRBIV).