Researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and Tel Aviv University identified a virus called TiLV (Tilapia Lake Virus) behind the famous fish in the world, Tilapia.
TiLV is behind a massive die-offs farmed tilapia in Israel and Ecuador, which threatens at least $7.5 Billion global tilapia industry.
It is known that tilapia is the world’s second most farmed fish, that provides inexpensive dietary protein and the basis of aquaculture employment in developing countries in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, whereas United States is the leading tilapia importer globally.
The scientists use thorough sequencing to determine genetic code of the virus from tissue taken from the diseased fish in Israel and Ecuador.
This process normally identifies the culprit but in such case, the resulting DNA sequences didn’t match any known virus.
By analyzing the structure of viral DNA, they go through observation of 10 gene clusters with complementary endpoints, the virus is associated with a common type of viral reproduction involving a protein called polymerase.
Laboratory results claims fish had swollen brains in Israel and liver disease in Ecuador.
“We are shifting our focus now to implementing diagnostic tests for containment of infection and to developing vaccines to prevent disease,” says Avi Eldar of the Kimron Veterinary Institute in Bet Dagan, Israel.