Project number: 2007-007
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $104,000.00
Principal Investigator: Richard Whittington
Organisation: University of Sydney (USYD)
Project start/end date: 16 Jun 2007 - 30 Sep 2008


In 2003 there was an outbreak of iridovirus in farmed Murray cod in Victoria that caused 90% losses. In 2004 these viruses were found in imported ornamental fish - gourami. These have established breeding populations in the wild in Australia and therefore may pose a threat to biodiversity in the Murray-Darling Basin and other systems in which Maccullochella sp. still exist. These viruses are not host specific and all Murray-Darling Basin sp. may be susceptible. Due to the risk to aquaculture, recreational fisheries and biodiversity, there is need to develop and validate diagnostic tests for GIV in order to enable rapid accurate detection of GIV, facilitate surveys of Murray cod and imported ornamental fish to improve risk assessment and conduct surveys of free-living and farmed fish in Australia. The specific tests required include a robust and accurate PCR, and cell culture. These tests need to be able to distinguish GIV from related iridoviruses such as RSIV.

CyHV-2 of goldfish
In the last 10 years imported goldfish numbers have continued to grow, in part, due to their competitive price. The imported goldfish have been subjected to the AQIS requirements for import certification and a 3 week holding period before release. Anecdotal evidence suggests that mortality rates of domestically produced goldfish increase when these fish are mixed in retail shops with imported goldfish. Investigations have revealed pathology consistent with CyHV-2. Imported goldfish may carry latent CyHV-2 infections. This project aims to provide the diagnostic capability and a sampling regime to further investigate these concerns.

The project relates directly to Strategies 1, 2 and 3 in Aquaplan 2005-2010 and meets key research area 7.2.1 in the FRDC Aquatic Animal Health Sub Program Research and Development Plan 2002-2008 (updated June 2005).


1. To optimise a PCR for detection of megalocytivirus
2. To optimise a PCR for detection of CyHV-2 in goldfish
3. To transfer technology to diagnostic laboratories in Australia

Final report

ISBN: 978-1-74210-138-5
Author: Richard Whittington

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