Phylogeny of the Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia Virus in European Aquaculture

Michael Cieslak, Susie Sommer Mikkelsen, Helle F. Skall, Marine Baud, Nicolas Diserens, Marc Y Engelsma, Olga L M Haenen, Shirin Mousakhani, Valentina Panzarin, Thomas Wahli, Niels Jørgen Olesen, Heike Schütze

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    One of the most valuable aquaculture fish in Europe is the rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss, but the profitability of trout production is threatened by a highly lethal infectious disease, viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS), caused by the VHS virus (VHSV). For the past few decades, the subgenogroup Ia of VHSV has been the main cause of VHS outbreaks in European freshwater-farmed rainbow trout. Little is currently known, however, about the phylogenetic radiation of this Ia lineage into subordinate Ia clades and their subsequent geographical spread routes. We investigated this topic using the largest Ia-isolate dataset ever compiled, comprising 651 complete G gene sequences: 209 GenBank Ia isolates and 442 Ia isolates from this study. The sequences come from 11 European countries and cover the period 1971-2015. Based on this dataset, we documented the extensive spread of the Ia population and the strong mixing of Ia isolates, assumed to be the result of the Europe-wide trout trade. For example, the Ia lineage underwent a radiation into nine Ia clades, most of which are difficult to allocate to a specific geographic distribution. Furthermore, we found indications for two rapid, large-scale population growth events, and identified three polytomies among the Ia clades, both of which possibly indicate a rapid radiation. However, only about 4% of Ia haplotypes (out of 398) occur in more than one European country. This apparently conflicting finding regarding the Europe-wide spread and mixing of Ia isolates can be explained by the high mutation rate of VHSV. Accordingly, the mean period of occurrence of a single Ia haplotype was less than a full year, and we found a substitution rate of up to 7.813 × 10-4 nucleotides per site per year. Finally, we documented significant differences between Germany and Denmark regarding their VHS epidemiology, apparently due to those countries' individual handling of VHS.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere0164475
    JournalP L o S One
    Issue number10
    Number of pages18
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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