April 18, 2024 — According to a new study led by Prof. Lior David from the Faculty of Agriculture at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem focusing on the common carp—a widely produced fish in the aquaculture industry and often the main ingredient in the Passover dish, gefilte fish—selective breeding could potentially lead to disease-resistant carp strains, opening up new avenues in ensuring safer food production.

Infectious diseases pose significant challenges to the health and welfare of both humans and animals. While breeding genetically resistant animals is a sustainable solution for healthy food production that provides unique research opportunities, the relationship between resistance and infectivity remains poorly understood.

The study looked at the disease transmission dynamics of the common carp disease, cyprinid herpes virus type 3. The researchers studied the roles of the fish as shedders (infecting) and cohabitants (infected) in various combinations. Their findings revealed that fish with resistance to the virus exhibited lower viral loads in their spleens and demonstrated higher survival rates compared to susceptible fish.

Susceptible fish infected by resistant counterparts experienced reduced mortality rates compared to those infected by other susceptible fish. Additionally, tanks housing resistant fish exhibited decreased viral levels in the water, leading to lower infection of other fish within the tank.

Prof. Lior David, the lead researcher of the study, commented, “The study provides experimental evidence that resistance to cyprinid herpes virus type 3 reduces infectivity due to a host mechanism that restricts viral replication and pathogen shedding. This not only benefits aquaculture production but also contributes to reducing virus propagation and disease spread in natural water bodies.”

These results demonstrate that disease-resistant fish not only survive better but also reduce the infection rate in others. This has significant implications for the aquaculture industry and disease epidemiology.

The research paper titled “Disease resistance and infectivity of virus susceptible and resistant common carp strains” is now available in Nature and can be accessed here.

Batya Dorfman, Evgeniya Marcos‑Hadad, Roni Tadmor‑Levi, Lior David

Department of Animal Sciences,  Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food, and Environment, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem