Infectious pancreatic necrosis virus (IPNV) is the aetiological agent of an important disease in hatchery-reared salmonid fish in North America, Europe and Japan. It belongs to the family Birnaviridae and shows a high degree of antigenic heterogeneity. However, genomic variations between the 10 identified serotypes have not yet been studied. In order to correlate genomic heterogeneity with the different serotypes, oligonucleotides were synthesized according to the published sequence of the Jasper strain (serotype A9). They were used as primers for the amplification of a 359 bp cDNA fragment of the viral genome using the polymerase chain reaction. Fragments amplified from 37 strains were digested with five different restriction enzymes. Restriction fragment profiles obtained on agarose gels showed heterogeneity not only between strains of different serotypes, but also among those belonging to serotype A1. A cluster analysis of the restriction patterns showed that IPNV strains can be divided into three major groups, corresponding approximately to serotypes A1, A2 and A3, and 10 subgroups which do not correlate with the serotyping of the strains.


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