Aquaculture Canada and WAS North America 2022

August 15 - 18, 2022

St Johns, Newfoundland, Canada


Ken Overturf, USDA-ARS, Hagerman, ID, Jacob Bledsoe, University of Idaho


¬†Utilizing RNA-seq, this study compared the transcriptomic responses of three improved strains (VSel, PSel, and CSel) of rainbow trout fry during acute stages of challenge with infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV). The VSel strain has been selected for resistance against the specific strain of IHNV used in our challenge, PSel has undergone selection for utilization of plant-protein based feeds and previously has shown elevated non-specific disease resistance despite no disease related selection pressures, and the final strain, CSel, is a commercial strain that has been domesticated for several years but has not been selected for specific viral disease resistance. Following a 21-day IHNV challenge, Kaplan-Meier survival estimator curves and cumulative percent mortality (CPM) showed significant differences in IHNV resistance across strains: VSel - 19.3 ± 5.0%, PSel - 67. ± 3.03%, CSel - 94.6 ± 4.1% CPM. To evaluate acute responses to IHNV infection, whole blood, as well as samples from the kidney, liver, and intestine, were collected at 0, 4, 12, 24, and 48 hours post infection (hpi). Serum lysozyme activity, a marker of non-specific innate immunity, showed strain and temporal effects during the acute infection phase with PSel showing the highest activity at 0 and 48 hpi. Differential gene expression responses were detected, with varying degrees, in all tissues, both between strains, as well as across acute timepoints within strains. The VSel strain showed upregulation for a particular subset of viral recognition genes during early infection timepoints and rather limited upregulation of immune genes later, while maintaining and reactivating metabolic pathways. The CSel strain showed a downregulation of metabolic related genes and a limited upregulation of immune genes, while the PSel strain showed similar downregulation of metabolic genes during acute infection, yet when compared to the CSel strain, showed a more robust innate immune response. Evaluation of upregulated immune response genes, as well as interferon-related genes showed the PSel strain to have the greatest number of uniquely upregulated immune genes in both the kidney and intestine, with CSel and PSel showing a similar number of such genes upregulated in liver. A moderate number of immune response genes were shared between PSel and CSel in all tissues, though both PSel and VSel showed a high number of uniquely overexpressed immune response genes in the kidney, and PSel showed the highest number of uniquely upregulated interferon related genes in the intestine. Overall, the VSel response was unique from the CSel with very little overlap in activated immune responses. Findings from this study highlight the disparity in IHNV resistance among genetic strains of rainbow trout, while identifying molecular mechanisms underlying differences in disease phenotypes. Furthermore, our results on trout strains with distinct selection backgrounds yields comparative insights into the adaptive gains brought about by selection programs for pathogen-specific disease resistance, as well as the non-specific immune enhancement associated with selection for utilization of plant-based diets.