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24, chemin de Borde Rouge –Auzeville – CS52627
31326 Castanet Tolosan CEDEX - France

Dernière mise à jour : Mai 2018

Menu Logo Principal AgroParisTech Université Paris-Saclay


GABI : Génétique Animale et Biologie IntégrativeUnité Mixte de Recherche INRA - AgroParisTech

Improved understanding of viral disease resistance in fish

Viruses are responsible for severe diseases in aquaculture. The origin of resistance to a highly pathogenic virus was studied in the rainbow trout, a species of international economic importance. A zone responsible for the different sensibilities to the virus has been discovered in the trout genome. A close examination of this zone will allow an improved understanding of aniviral defense mechanisms in fish, the identification of the genes implicated and the development of selection methods for these resistant animals.

Contexte et enjeux

An improved control of fish health is a major stake for guarenteeing the economic and environmental sustainability of the aquaculture industry. The immune defense mechanisms and their genetic bases in fish are not well known therefore limiting the ways we can fight these diseases in breeding. 

The comparison of different trout lines with different genetic origins, however, has revealed a large variability of the sensitivity to several pathogenic agents including the virus responsible for the viral haemorrhagic septicaemia. These lines have been used in a research programme associating geneticists and immunologists to improve our understanding of the origin of the different virus resistances.


Research was led in parallel on the whole organism level (fish infected by the virus) and on the culture cell level derived from lines sensitive or resistant to the virus. 

Crosses between the sensitive and resistant lines have allowed the identification of several zones on the genome of the trout (or QTL) that influece the survival of fish when they are infected by the virus. In addition, the main role of these zones is both the survival of fish after infection and viral multiplication on tissue fragments (fins). This original observation suggests that the resistance mechanisms do not depend on the whole organism level but on the cell characteristics. Culture cell analysis of fibroblasts confirmed this result: the in vitro infected cells have a resistance to the virus that is highly correlated with the resistance measured on the fish, the multiplication of the virus being much more important in the cells coming from fish of the sensitive line. This parallel resistance has allowed us to confirm our first hypotheses on the nature of the antivirual defense mechanisms implicated.


These results provide interesting approaches to be explored that would improve our knowledge of the immune mechanisms in fish and allow us to analyze the genetic architecture of the antiviral response in the trout. The exploration of the QTL region is underway, with the objective of identifying the gene(s) responsible for resistance. The knowledge acquired will also allow the selection of resistant animals.


These studies were done within the framework of the doctoral studies of Eloi VERRIER, who received the silver award from the French Academy of Agriculture in 2013.

A part of the studies were financed by the NADIR European project, coordinated by INRA (FP7, 2007-2013 No. FP7-228394 ; )

Verrier, ER. ; Dorson, M. ; Mauger, S. ; Torhy, C. ; Ciobotaru, C. ; Hervet, C. ; Dechamp, N. ; Genet, C. ; Boudinot, P. ; Quillet, E. (2013) Resistance to a rhabdovirus (VHSV) in rainbow trout: identification of a major QTL related to innate mechanisms.  PLoS One, 2013, 8 (2): 1-11.

Verrier ER, Langevin C, Tohry C, Houel A, Ducrocq V, et al. (2012)Genetic Resistance to Rhabdovirus Infection in Teleost Fish Is Paralleled to the Derived Cell Resistance Status. PLoS ONE 7(4): e33935. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0033935.

Verrier E.R. (2013). Bases génétiques de la résistance aux rhabdovirus et réponse cellulaire chez la truite arc-en-ciel : importance des mécanismes de défense innés. Thèse de Doctorat AgroParisTech, Institut des Sciences et Industries du Vivant et de l’Environnement, Spécialité Sciences de la vie et de la santé.