Detection of white sturgeon iridovirus (WSIV) in sturgeons (Actinopterygii: Acipenseriformes: Acipenseridae) from aquaculture facilities located in Poland, Germany, and Italy

Background. White sturgeon iridovirus (WSIV) is one of the most serious threats for sturgeon aquaculture as the mortality in juvenile individuals can reach 95%. At the turn of the century WSIV was reported among hatchery-raised white sturgeon, Acipenser transmontanus Richardson, 1836, in North America, Russian sturgeon , Acipenser gueldenstaedtii Brandt et Ratzeburg, 1833, in northern Europe but also pallid sturgeon, Scaphirhynchus albus (Forbes et Richardson, 1905) and shovelnose sturgeon, Scaphirhynchus platorynchus (Rafinesque, 1820) in North and South Dakota. The clinical signs of infection include cessation of feeding and edematous and pale gills. Those pathological changes lead to respiratory problems of the juveniles and deterioration of their overall condition. Rapid detection of pathogen particles under aquaculture conditions is crucial, therefore the principal aim of this study was to establish a molecular method for rapid and effective detection of the WSIV. This is the first study thoroughly comparing WSIV detection methods in sturgeons cultured in Poland, Germany, and Italy. Materials and methods. A total of 244 samples were collected from 82 sturgeons representing six species: beluga, Huso huso (Linnaeus, 1758); sterlet, Acipenser ruthenus Linnaeus, 1758; Siberian sturgeon, Acipenser baerii Brandt, 1869; Russian sturgeon, A. gueldenstaedtii; Atlantic sturgeon, Acipenser oxyrinchus Mitchill, 1815; and European sea sturgeon, Acipenser sturio Linnaeus, 1758, as well as five sturgeon hybrids: Siberian × Russian, Adriatic (Acipenser naccarii Bonaparte, 1836) × Siberian, Adriatic × beluga, Siberian × sterlet, and beluga × sterlet. The samples were screened for the WSIV using conventional PCR, real-time PCR, and in situ hybridization (ISH) methods. Results. In total, positive results were obtained in 231 (94.67%) out of 244 analysed samples, except for H. huso where DNA of WSIV was not identified. DNA of WSIV was most frequently detected in the kidney (97.92%), intestine (97.50%), skin (94.97%), and gills (93.29%). The most effective method for detecting DNA of WSIV in sturgeons was real-time PCR (92.62% of), PCR (90.98%), and ISH (49.24%). Conclusion. The host range of the WSIV seems to be wider than expected, however, further studies are necessary since no clinical symptoms were observed in sturgeons and their hybrids.



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