Two iridovirus-susceptible cell lines were established and characterized from grouper Epinephelus awoara kidney and liver tissues. These cell lines have been designated GK and GL, respectively. The cells multiplied well in Leibovitz's L-15 medium, supplemented with 10% foetal bovine serum, at temperatures between 20 and 32 °C, and have been subcultured more than 120 times, becoming continuous cell lines. The cell lines consist of a heterogeneous mixture of fibroblastic and epithelial cells. The viability of cells, stored frozen in liquid nitrogen (-196 °C), was 95% after 1 year. Chromosome morphologies of GK and GL cells were homogeneous. Both cell lines were susceptible to grouper iridovirus, and yielded high titres of up to 108 TCID50mL-1. In addition, both cell lines effectively replicated the virus, which could be purified to homogeneity by cesium chloride gradient centrifugation. Electron microscopy studies showed that purified virus particles were 170 ± 10 nm in diameter, and were hexagonal in shape. Virus-infected cells showed an abundance of virus particles inside the cytoplasm. These results show that the GK and GL cell lines effectively replicate grouper iridovirus, and can be used as a tool for studying fish iridoviruses.
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