Iridoviruses infect invertebrates (primarily insects and crustaceans) and ectothermic vertebrates (fish, amphibians, and reptiles). Identical, or nearly identical viruses, have been isolated from different animals within the same taxonomic class, indicating that infection by a given virus is not limited to a single species. Although inter-class infections have been documented following experimental infection with vertebrate iridoviruses, it is not clear whether such infections occur in nature. Here we report the isolation of apparently identical iridoviruses from wild sympatric fish (the threespine stickleback, Gasterostelus aculeatus) and amphibians (the red-legged frog, Rana aurora). Viruses isolated from sticklebacks (stickleback virus, SBV) and from a red-legged frog tadpole (tadpole virus 2, TV2) replicated in fathead minnow (FHM) cells and synthesized proteins which co-migrated with those of frog virus 3 (FV3). Following restriction endonuclease digestion of viral DNA with Hind III and Xba I, gel analysis showed that the profiles of SBV and TV2 were identical to each other and distinct from FV3. Using oligonucleotide primers specific for a highly conserved region of the iridovirus major capsid protein, an not, vert, ~500 nucleotide DNA fragment was amplified from SBV and TV2. Sequence analysis showed that within this 500 nucleotide region SBV and TV2 were identical to each other and to FV3. Taken together these results provide the first evidence that iridoviruses naturally infect animals belonging to different taxonomic classes, and strengthen the suggestion that fish may serve as a reservoir for amphibian viruses or vice versa.
Additional publication details
Molecular characterization of iridoviruses isolated from sympatric amphibians and fish