Family Iridoviridae: Poor Viral Relations No Longer

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Members of the family Iridoviridae infect a diverse array of invertebrate and cold-blooded vertebrate hosts and are currently viewed as emerging pathogens of fish and amphibians. Iridovirid replication is unique and involves both nuclear and cytoplasmic compartments, a circularly permuted, terminally redundant genome that, in the case of vertebrate iridoviruses, is also highly methylated, and the efficient shutoff of host macromolecular synthesis. Although initially neglected largely due to the perceived lack of health, environmental, and economic concerns, members of the genus Ranavirus, and the newly recognized genus Megalocytivirus, are rapidly attracting growing interest due to their involvement in amphibian population declines and their adverse impacts on aquaculture. Herein we describe the molecular and genetic basis of viral replication, pathogenesis, and immunity, and discuss viral ecology with reference to members from each of the invertebrate and vertebrate genera.