Infectious haematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV) is the most significant virus pathogen of salmon and trout in North America. Previous studies have shown relatively low genetic diversity of IHNV within large geographical regions. In this study, the genetic heterogeneity of 84 IHNV isolates sampled from rainbow trout () over a 20 year period at four aquaculture facilities within a 12 mile stretch of the Snake River in Idaho, USA was investigated. The virus isolates were characterized using an RNase protection assay (RPA) and nucleotide sequence analyses. Among the 84 isolates analysed, 46 RPA haplotypes were found and analyses revealed a high level of genetic heterogeneity relative to that detected in other regions. Sequence analyses revealed up to 7·6% nucleotide divergence, which is the highest level of diversity reported for IHNV to date. Phylogenetic analyses identified four distinct monophyletic clades representing four virus lineages. These lineages were distributed across facilities, and individual facilities contained multiple lineages. These results suggest that co-circulating IHNV lineages of relatively high genetic diversity are present in the IHNV populations in this rainbow trout culture study site. Three of the four lineages exhibited temporal trends consistent with rapid evolution.


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