Systemic iridovirus from threespine stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus represents a new megalocytivirus species (family Iridoviridae)

Thomas B. Waltzek, Gary D. Marty, Michael E. Alfaro, William R. Bennett, Kyle A. Garver, Martin Haulena, E. Scott Weber, Ronald Hedrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Megalocytiviruses have been associated with epizootics resulting in significant economic losses in public aquaria and food-fish and ornamental fish industries, as well as threatening wild fish stocks. The present report describes characteristics of the first megalocytivirus from a wild temperate North American fish, the threespine stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus. Moribund and dead fish sampled after transfer to quarantine for an aquarium exhibit had amphophilic to basophilic intracytoplasmic inclusions (histopathology) and icosahedral virions (transmission electron microscopy) consistent with an iridovirus infection. Phylogenetic analyses of the major capsid, ATPase, and DNA polymerase genes confirmed the virus as the first known member of the genus Megalocytivirus (family Iridoviridae) from a gasterosteid fish. The unique biologic and genetic properties of this virus are sufficient to establish a new Megalocytivirus species to be formally known as the threespine stickleback iridovirus (TSIV). The threespine stickleback is widely distributed throughout the northern hemisphere in both freshwater and estuarine environments. The presence of megalocytiviruses with broad host specificity and detrimental economic and ecologic impacts among such a widely dispersed fish species indicates the need for sampling of other stickleback populations as well as other North American sympatric marine and freshwater ich - thyo fauna.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-56
Number of pages16
JournalDiseases of Aquatic Organisms
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 17 2012


  • Iridovirus
  • Megalocytivirus
  • Phylogeny
  • Threespine stickleback

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science


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