The nature of the association between viral fitness and virulence remains elusive in vertebrate virus systems, partly due to a lack of in vivo experiments using statistically sufficient numbers of replicate hosts. We examined the relationship between virulence and fitness in Infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV), in vivo, in intact living rainbow trout. Trout were infected with a high or low virulence genotype of M genogroup IHNV, or a mixture of the two genotypes, so as to calculate relative fitness and the effect of a competition environment on fitness. Fitness was measured as total viral load in the host at time of peak viral density, quantified by genotype-specific quantitative RT-PCR (qRT-PCR). The more virulent IHNV genotype reached higher densities in both single and mixed infections. There was no effect of competition on the performance of either genotype. Our results suggest a positive link between IHNV genotype fitness and virulence.
Additional publication details
Virulence correlates with fitness in vivo for two M group genotypes of Infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV).