With the steady growth of the human population, food security becomes a prime challenge. Aquaculture is the fastest growing sector providing proteins from an animal source, but outbreaks of infectious diseases repeatedly hamper the production and further development of this sector. Breeding of disease-resistant strains is a desired sustainable solution to this problem. Cyprinid herpes virus-3 (CyHV-3) is a dsDNA virus damaging production of common carp, an important food and ornamental fish. Previously, we have demonstrated successful introgression of CyHV-3 resistance from a feral strain to commercial strains. Here, we used genotyping by sequencing to identify two novel quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for disease survival that map to different linkage groups than two other QTLs that we previously identified. Effects of these four QTLs were validated and further studied in 14 families with various levels of disease resistance. CyHV-3 survival was found to be a quantitative trait conditioned by mild additive QTL effects and by intricate dominant allelic and epistatic QTL–QTL interactions. Both rare feral alleles and alleles common to feral and cultured strains contributed to survival. This and other advantages of feral alleles introgression were demonstrated. These QTLs, which affected survival of individuals within families, had no significant effect on variation in cumulative family % survival, suggesting that more between family variation remains to be explored. Unraveling the underlying genetics of survival is important for enhancing the breeding of resistant strains and our knowledge of disease resistance mechanisms.
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We thank all laboratory members who assisted in fish experiments. We also like to thank Elad Oren and Dr. Adi Doron-Faigenboim from ARO for their help with the QTL analysis. Design and execution of challenge experiments were kindly supported by Kovax Ltd (Jerusalem, Israel) and we specifically thank Drs. Arnon Dishon and Shlomit Tal. This research was supported by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP7) of the European Union (grant #311993, TARGETFISH), by the Israel Science Foundation (grant #928/07), and by the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (grant #820-0319-13) to DL. DL is chair of the Vigevani Senior Lectureship in Animal Sciences.