Genotype Meets Phenotype: Correlating Genetic Changes in Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia Virus Type IVb with Changes in Virulence in Round Gobies
Imanse, Sierra M.
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Viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus (VHSV) is an aquatic rhabdovirus first recognized in farmed rainbow trout in Denmark. Recently, a mutated genotype of this virus, type IVb, was dis-covered in the Laurentian Great Lakes Basin and has caused several massive die-offs in some of the 28 species of North American finfish known to be susceptible. A highly adaptable and deadly RNA virus, VHSV must be reported if found in a new species or geographic location. Several sequence types of VHSV genotype IVb are known to exist in the Great Lakes, the two major be-ing sequence types vcG001 and vcG002. Although the two sequence types could be variable elsewhere in their genome, genetic analysis shows a difference of only one silent point mutation in the glycoprotein genomic region, which is a well-used method for sequence type identifica-tion. The aim of this study was to find any phenotypic differences (e.g. virulence) that exist be-tween VHSV IVb vcG001 and vcG002. In vitro, we infected epithelioma papulosum cyprini (EPC) cells and found that vcG001 has an earlier, larger rate of growth than vcG002 and also produces significantly higher titers of plaque forming units (pfu). Interestingly, despite the dif-ferent growth rates, we found no significant difference between the resulting amount of viral RNA produced between the two sequence types. In vivo, we infected round gobies (Neogobius melanostomus)via immersion of three different concentrations of vcG001 or vcG002 and found that the mortality of round gobies was significantly greater for the lowest concentration treatment with vcG001 than the same concentration with vcG002. The viral load did not differ significantly between any of the three immersion dosages or sequence types. We conclude that there are phe-notypic differences between vcG001 and vcG002 in their virulence in vitro in EPC cells and in vivo in round gobies, although further research is necessary to substantiate and expand upon these findings.
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