Researchers to tackle disease affecting Australia’s Barramundi industry

RESEARCHERS of the University Of Sydney (USYD) will lead a new project to improve existing methods of detecting fish disease, which is causing setbacks to the Barramundi industry.

The nervous necrosis virus — a serious disease affecting more than 35 species of fish worldwide — has primarily affected the production of Barramundi in Australia, with losses of up to 100 percent occurring in some hatcheries.

USYD Farm Animal Health chairman, Richard Whittington said the disease has prevented the expansion of the industry and hampered productivity.

In the past, the gel-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method was the validated test used in laboratories to find signs of the nervous necrosis virus.

“The old test was not very sensitive, and in many cases, infection was present yet still turned up negative,” Whittington said.

“For that reason, the result of the test did not really predict the likelihood of an outbreak occurring.”

The new PCR method will allow researchers to concentrate the genome from the virus so that it can be detected in a very sensitive laboratory procedure.

The new study will also improve detection by developing and applying serological tests to complement the PCR method. This will provide the information as to whether the antibody status should be used as an indicator of infection in a fish population.

Send this to a friend