3 years ago

F-specific RNA bacteriophages, especially members of subgroup II, should be reconsidered as good indicators of viral pollution of oysters.

C Gantzer, J Loutreul, C Hartard, S Banas, N Boudaud, R Rivet, A Maul, M Leclerc
Norovirus (NoV) is the leading cause of gastroenteritis outbreaks linked to oyster consumption. In this study, we investigated the potential of F-specific RNA bacteriophages (FRNAPH) as indicators of viral contamination in oysters, by focusing especially on the subgroup FRNAPH-II. These viral indicators have been neglected because of their sometimes different behavior from that of NoV in shellfish, especially during the depuration processes usually performed before marketing. However, a significant bias needs to be taken into account which is that, in the absence of routine culture methods, NoV is targeted by genome detection while FRNAPH presence is usually investigated by isolation of infectious particles. In this study, by targeting both viruses using genome detection, a significant correlation was observed between FRNAPH-II and NoV in shellfish collected from various European harvesting areas impacted by fecal pollution. Moreover, during their depuration, while high persistence of NoV was confirmed, similar or even greater persistence was observed for FRNAPH-II genome over 30 days. Such striking genome persistence calls into question the relevance of molecular methods in assessing viral hazard. Targeting the same virus (i.e. FRNAPH-II) by culture and genome detection in specimens coming from harvesting areas as well as during depuration, we concluded that the presence of genomes in shellfish does not provide any information on the presence of the corresponding infectious particles. In view of these results, infectious FRNAPH detection should be reconsidered as a valuable indicator in oysters and its potential for assessing viral hazard needs to be investigated.IMPORTANCE This work brings new data about the behavior of viruses in shellfish, as well as concerning the relevance of molecular methods to detect them and evaluate the viral hazard. Firstly, a high correlation has been observed between F-specific RNA bacteriophages of subgroup II (FRNAPH-II) and norovirus (NoV) in shellfish impacted by fecal contamination, when both are detected using molecular approaches. Secondly, when using RT-PCR and culture to detect FRNAPH-II in shellfish, it appears that genome of viruses presents higher persistence compared to infectivity, and thus their detection fails to give information about the concomitant presence of infectious viruses. At last, this study shows that persistence of FRNAPH is at least as long as that of NoV. These data are major arguments to reconsider the potential of FRNAPH as indicators of shellfish viral quality.

Publisher URL: http://doi.org/10.1128/AEM.01866-17

DOI: 10.1128/AEM.01866-17

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