Infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV) is a pathogen that infects many Pacific salmonid stocks from the watersheds of North America. Previous studies have thoroughly characterized the genetic diversity of IHNV isolates from Alaska and the Hagerman Valley in Idaho. To enhance understanding of the evolution and viral transmission patterns of IHNV within the Pacific Northwest geographic range, we analyzed the G gene of IHNV isolates from the coastal watersheds of Washington State by ribonuclease protection assay (RPA) and nucleotide sequencing. The RPA analysis of 23 isolates indicated that the Skagit basin IHNV isolates were relatively homogeneous as a result of the dominance of one G gene haplotype (S). Sequence analysis of 303 bases in the middle of the G gene (midG region) of 61 isolates confirmed the high frequency of a Skagit River basin sequence and identified another sequence commonly found in isolates from the Lake Washington basin. Overall, both the RPA and sequence analysis showed that the Washington coastal IHNV isolates are genetically homogeneous and have little genetic diversity. This is similar to the genetic diversity pattern of IHNV from Alaska and contrasts sharply with the high genetic diversity demonstrated for IHNV isolates from fish farms along the Snake River in Idaho. The high degree of sequence and haplotype similarity between the Washington coastal IHNV isolates and those from Alaska and British Columbia suggests that they have a common viral ancestor. Phylogenetic analyses of the isolates we studied and those from different regions throughout the virus's geographic range confirms a conserved pattern of evolution of the virus in salmonid stocks north of the Columbia River, which forms Washington's southern border.
Additional publication details
Genetic characterization of infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus of coastal salmonid stocks in Washington State