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Molecular evidence for homologous strains of infectious spleen and kidney necrosis virus (ISKNV) genotype I infecting inland freshwater cultured Asian sea bass (Lates calcarifer) in Thailand
Archives of Virology  (IF2.574),  Pub Date : 2021-08-30, DOI: 10.1007/s00705-021-05207-7
Kerddee, Pattarawit, Dinh‐Hung, Nguyen, Dong, Ha Thanh, Hirono, Ikuo, Soontara, Chayanit, Areechon, Nontawith, Srisapoome, Prapansak, Kayansamruaj, Pattanapon

Infectious spleen and kidney necrosis virus (ISKNV) is a fish-pathogenic virus belonging to the genus Megalocytivirus of the family Iridoviridae. In 2018, disease occurrences (40-50% cumulative mortality) associated with ISKNV infection were reported in grown-out Asian sea bass (Lates calcarifer) cultured in an inland freshwater system in Thailand. Clinical samples were collected from seven distinct farms located in the eastern and central regions of Thailand. The moribund fish showed various abnormal signs, including lethargy, pale gills, darkened body, and skin hemorrhage, while hypertrophied basophilic cells were observed microscopically in gill, liver, and kidney tissue. ISKNV infection was confirmed on six out of seven farms using virus-specific semi-nested PCR. The MCP and ATPase genes showed 100% sequence identity among the virus isolates, and the virus was found to belong to the ISKNV genotype I clade. Koch’s postulates were later confirmed by challenge assay, and the mortality of the experimentally infected fish at 21 days post-challenge was 50-90%, depending on the challenge dose. The complete genome of two ISKNV isolates, namely KU1 and KU2, was recovered directly from the infected specimens using a shotgun metagenomics approach. The genome length of ISKNV KU1 and KU2 was 111,487 and 111,610 bp, respectively. In comparison to closely related ISKNV strains, KU1 and KU2 contained nine unique genes, including a caspase-recruitment-domain-containing protein that is potentially involved in inhibition of apoptosis. Collectively, this study indicated that inland cultured Asian sea bass are infected by homologous ISKNV strains. This indicates that ISKNV genotype I should be prioritized for future vaccine research.