Systemic iridovirus infection in the Banggai cardinalfish (Pterapogon kauderni Koumans 1933)

E. Scott Weber, Thomas B. Waltzek, Devon A. Young, Erica L. Twitchell, Amy E. Gates, Alejandro Vagelli, Guillermo R. Risatti, Ronald Hedrick, Salvatore Frasca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Iridoviruses infect food and ornamental fish species from a wide range of freshwater to marine habitats across the globe. The objective of the current study was to characterize an iridovirus causing systemic infection of wild-caught Pterapogon kauderni Koumans 1933 (Banggai cardinalfish). Freshly frozen and fixed specimens were processed for histopathologic evaluation, transmission electron microscopic examination, virus culture, molecular virologic testing, microbiology, and in situ hybridization (ISH) using riboprobes. Basophilic granular cytoplasmic inclusions were identified in cytomegalic cells often found beneath endothelium, and hexagonal virus particles typical of iridovirus were identified in the cytoplasm of enlarged cells by transmission electron microscopy. Attempts at virus isolation in cell culture were unsuccessful; however, polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based molecular testing resulted in amplification and sequencing of regions of the DNA polymerase and major capsid protein genes, along with the full-length ATPase gene of the putative iridovirus. Virus gene sequences were then used to infer phylogenetic relationships of the P. kauderni agent to other known systemic iridoviruses from fishes. Riboprobes, which were transcribed from a cloned PCR amplification product from the viral genome generated hybridization signals from inclusions within cytomegalic cells in histologic sections tested in ISH experiments. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first report of a systemic iridovirus from P. kauderni. The pathologic changes induced and the genomic sequence data confirm placement of the Banggai cardinalfish iridovirus in the genus Megalocytivirus family Iridoviridae. The ISH provides an additional molecular diagnostic technique for confirmation of presumptive infections detected in histologic sections from infected fish.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)306-320
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2009


  • Banggai cardinalfish
  • Cytoplasmic inclusions
  • In situ hybridization
  • Iridovirus
  • Megalocytivirus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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