Molecular characterization of unknown virus isolated from the introduced species, the Northern snake head (Channa argus), present in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed

Science Center Objects

Molecular characterization of unknown virus isolated from the introduced species, the Northern snake head (Channa argus), present in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed

The Northern snakehead (Channa argus) is a piscivorous fish native to eastern Asia. It is the most important snakehead cultured in China and has been purposely introduced to numerous Asian countries due to its culinary attributes. For decades this fish has been imported to the United States as a live product to meet food market and aquarium trade demand. It is believed that accidental or illegal, but purposeful introductions of this species into open waters was an artifact of this permitted live market. While it is not known when this fish was introduced into United States waters, the first documented observation of a live snakehead captured from open waters occurred in California (Silverwood Lake) in October of 1997. Since that time Northern snakeheads have been observed in Florida, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and the New England states. The presence of Northern snakeheads in the mid-Atlantic region has garnered attention given sensationalized media coverage, coupled by evidence that these populations are expanding. Strategies to eradicate this invasive fish have thus far failed, and it is predicted that the Northern snakehead is likely to increase its present range. Thus, it is critical to better understand the risk this species poses to indigenous fishes of the United States including that of this fish to serve as a pathogen vector or reservoir.

Objectives:

  1. Isolate viruses present in Northern snakehead inhabiting the Chesapeake Bay watershed using classical tissue culture methods.
  2. Determine the identity of viral isolates using molecular methods.
  3. Develop quantitative molecular methods for the surveillance of viruses that infect the Northern snakehead.

References:

Iwanowicz, L, C Densmore, C Hahn, P McAllister and J Odenkirk (2013) Identification of Largemouth Bass Virus in the Introduced Northern snakehead (Channa argus) inhabiting the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Journal of Aquatic Animal Health.  25:191-196. [REF]

 

The invasive Northern snakehead (Channa argus)

Northern snakehead (Channa argus) maintained in capativity at the LSC Fish Health Laboratory.

(Credit: Christine Densmore, LSC Fish Health Laboratory. Public domain.)