Four major genotypes of viral haemorrhagic septicaemia virus (VHSV), which have been isolated from many marine and freshwater fish species, are known to differ in virulence. While fast and low-cost genotyping systems based on monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) have been developed for typing of VHSV virulence, there is a need for supplementing the knowledge. In particular, 2 field isolates from viral haemorrhagic septicaemia (VHS) outbreaks in sea-reared rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss in Sweden, SE-SVA-14 and SE-SVA-1033 (both genotype Ib), have yielded contradictory reactions. In the present study, upon cloning by limited dilution, both isolates appeared to be heterogeneous in terms of reactivity with nucleo (N)-protein-specific MAbs as well their gene sequences. Infection trials in rainbow trout further revealed differences in the virulence of these virus clones derived from the same primary isolate. Based on a comparative analysis of the entire genome of the clones tested, we suggest that the differences in virulence are tentatively linked to substitutions of amino acids (aa) in the N-protein region covered by aa 43-46 and aa position 168, or a combination of the two. The fact that such minor naturally occurring genetic differences affect the virulence implies that even low-virulent VHSV isolates in the marine environment should be considered as a potential threat for the trout farming industry. The described MAbs can represent useful tools for initial risk assessment of disease outbreaks in farmed trout by marine VHSV isolates.
- Viral haemorrhagic septicaemia virus
- Oncorhynchus mykiss
- Genotype Ib