The genome of Finnish Ranavirus mapped

4.4.2017 09:48

Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira was involved in an international research project studying the genome of a Ranavirus of the Family Iridoviridae, found in Finland in the pike-perch, Sander lucioperca. Because Ranaviruses infect fish, they present a threat to both wild and cultured fish populations worldwide, and therefore aquaculture as a whole. The virus is not transmitted to humans.

Ranaviruses infect not only fish but amphibians and reptiles as well, and they can also transmit the virus. So far, Ranaviruses have not been detected in amphibians in Finland.

"The entire genome of the Ranavirus pike-perch iridovirus PPIV, isolated from pike-perch in Finland, has been mapped. PPIV was initially isolated from symptom free fish fry. The results of the study indicate that the virus is able to infect several host species. In earlier studies, the virus was found to cause mortality in infection tests carried out on pike, Esox lucius, and frogs, Rana temporaria", says Riikka Holopainen, Senior Researcher, PhD, from Evira.

Viruses found worldwide

Ranaviruses have caused mass mortality in the amphibian populations around the world. They may pose a threat to amphibians even in the Nordic countries. According to the study, the Finnish pike-perch iridovirus PPIV is closely related to the Ranaviruses isolated from amphibians in Europe and China. Mapping of the virus genome provides further information about the characteristics of the virus and its possible ability to cause morbidity.

Ranavirus has caused disease outbreaks and mortality in fish and amphibian populations for instance in Australia, Asia and the United States. In Europe, the Ranavirus has been found in amphibians in the United Kingdom, Italy, Croatia, Denmark, Spain, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany.

In connection with the Ranavirus study, Evira collected observations of mortality of wild frogs in summer 2008 in collaboration with experts of the Finnish Museum of Natural History. The results gained indicated that frogs in Finland are still free from this disease.

Further information about the project:
Risk assessment of new and emerging systemic iridoviral diseases for European fish and aquatic ecosystems (RANA)

The study was conducted in collaboration by Evira and scientists at the University of Florida and the Global Ranavirus Consortium.

Detailed results of the study are available in a peer-reviewed journal:
Holopainen, R., Subramaniam, K., Steckler, N.K., Claytor, S.C., Ariel, E., Waltzek, T.B.
Genomic Sequence of a Ranavirus Isolated from Pike-Perch Sander lucioperca.
Genome Announcements 2016: Vol. 4, No. 6.

Read more:
Global Ranavirus Consortium

Further information:
Riikka Holopainen, Senior Researcher, virology, tel. +358 50 4393974


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