Project number: 2017-117
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $121,127.00
Principal Investigator: Serge Corbeil
Organisation: CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory
Project start/end date: 30 Apr 2018 - 29 Sep 2019


Abalone viral ganglioneuritis (AVG) has occurred in Victorian abalone for several years beginning from 2005/6. Later on several genetic variants of the causative agent, abalone herpesvirus (HaHV) (previously called AbHV) associated with disease outbreaks were discovered in Tasmanian processing plants.
All Australian abalone species tested to date have been shown to be susceptible to HaHV infection and to the disease it causes (Corbeil et al., 2016, Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 119:101-106). In addition, a recent study revealed that the New Zealand paua (H. iris) is resistant to AVG when challenged with the virus via intra-muscular injection and immersion (Corbeil et al., 2017, Journal of Invertebrate Pathology 146:31-35). The mechanism(s) of protection present in the paua are not known but are possibly based on innate immune genes that are expressed in paua but not expressed (or are absent) in Australian abalone species.
Identifying the mechanisms of protection would provide a knowledge based platform that could lead to the development of hybrid abalone possessing resistance traits and/or to the development of immunotherapeutic molecules that could protect Australian abalone species.
This project aims to address this knowledge gap and is relevant to all jurisdictions with abalone fisheries. Access to bio-secure aquarium facilities provides CSIRO-AAHL with a unique capability to investigate what genetic factors influence disease resistance in paua (exotic species), and carry out molecular gene characterisation.


1. Define the time-line of an anti-viral response in the paua and Australian hybrid abalone for the first-time, utilising real-time PCR, and a set of known anti-viral effector genes.
2. Through mRNA sequencing and genomic analysis, identify early genes expressed in paua and Australian hybrid abalone upon HaHV immersion challenge.
3. Establish an immune signature in the early response of the host to the virus that differs between the paua and Australian hybrid abalone, to determine key immune players in HaHV resistance.

Final report

ISBN: 978-1-925994-03-2
Authors: Serge Corbeil (CSIRO) Karla Helbig (LaTrobe University)
Final Report • 2020-02-01 • 921.41 KB


This project was carried out by scientists from AAHL CSIRO (Dr Serge Corbeil) and from LaTrobe University (Drs Karla Helbig and Subir Sarker). After discovering the existence of an abalone species (Päua - Haliotis iris) resistant to AVG our research team based in Geelong and Melbourne undertook (2018) to expose the AVG resistant päua and the AVG susceptible greenlip x blacklip hybrid abalone to HaHV-1 (the etiological agent of AVG) and look for differential gene expression between species. Cutting edge sequencing technology and bio-informatic analysis allowed us to investigate the gene expression of the animals at the molecular level. This approach led to pinpoint abalone genes that are likely to play a role in the protection against AVG in päua. Furthermore, the identification of these genes may facilitate (if applicable) the use of a gene silencing technology such as the CRISPR system in vitro and in vivo to improve immune response to AVG. A breeding program strategy could also eventually be implemented to increase resistance to AVG in susceptible abalone species.

Related research


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