Citation Herath T, Ashby AJ, Jayasuriya NS, Bron J, Taylor J, Adams A, Richards R, Weidmann M, Ferguson H, Taggart J, Migaud H, Fordyce MJ & Thompson KD (2017) Impact of Salmonid alphavirus infection in diploid and triploid Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) fry. PLoS ONE, 12 (9), Art. No.: e0179192. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0179192
Abstract With increasing interest in the use of triploid salmon in commercial aquaculture, gaining an understanding of how economically important pathogens affect triploid stocks is important. To compare the susceptibility of diploid and triploid Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) to viral pathogens, fry were experimentally infected with Salmonid alphavirus sub-type 1 (SAV1), the aetiological agent of pancreas disease (PD) affecting Atlantic salmon aquaculture in Europe. Three groups of fry were exposed to the virus via different routes of infection: intraperitoneal injection (IP), bath immersion, or cohabitation (co-hab) and untreated fry were used as a control group. Mortalities commenced in the co-hab challenged diploid and triploid fish from 11 days post infection (dpi), and the experiment was terminated at 17 dpi. Both diploid and triploid IP challenged groups had similar levels of cumulative mortality at the end of the experimental period (41.1 % and 38.9 % respectively), and these were significantly higher (p < 0.01) than for the other challenge routes. A TaqMan-based quantitative PCR was used to assess SAV load in the heart, a main target organ of the virus, and also liver, which does not normally display any pathological changes during clinical infections, but exhibited severe degenerative lesions in the present study. The median viral RNA copy number was higher in diploid fish compared to triploid fish in both the heart and the liver of all three challenged groups. However, a significant statistical difference (p < 0.05) was only apparent in the liver of the co-hab groups. Diploid fry also displayed significantly higher levels of pancreatic and myocardial degeneration than triploids. This study showed that both diploid and triploid fry are susceptible to experimental SAV1 infection. The lower virus load seen in the triploids compared to the diploids may possibly be related to differences in cell metabolism between the two groups, however, further investigation is necessary to confirm this and also to assess the outcome of PD outbreaks in other developmental stages of the fish when maintained in commercial production systems.