Keeping up With Virus Taxonomy: Viruses that infect crustaceans

Posted on January 17, 2024   by Clare Baker

For the first edition of ‘Keeping up with Virus Taxonomy’ of 2024, let’s take a look at some virus families that infect crustaceans. Crustaceans are a group of animals belonging to the subphylum Crustacea and include crabs, lobsters, shrimp and wood lice.

JGV Main.png


First up we have a family of viruses which have been associated with crustaceans, insects, gastropods, and nematodes. While there are eight classified qinvirids, there is little understanding of the virion or methods of replication or translation. You might notice similar traits throughout this edition, as quinvirids are closely related to two other features of this edition - jingchuvirals and yuevirids. 


Next up on our list is Jingchuvirales. This ICTV profile is slightly different to other profile spotlights in ‘Keeping up With Virus Taxonomy’ as it describes an order, rather than a family. Jingchuvirales is an order of negative-sense RNA viruses that have been associated with arachnids, barnacles, crustaceans, insects, fish and reptiles across Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North and South America. Virion replication and translation are all unknown for the order, which includes four families. While little is known about Jingchuvirales, there is at least one unpublished report1 that suggest that the order may infect humans.  


Cruliviridae are a family of negative-sense RNA viruses that have been found in crustaceans. Keeping with the theme, little is known about how viruses in the family translate and replicate. We do know however, that replication begins with endocytosis of enveloped virions. In other words, virus particles are brought into the host cell. Infected host cells then develop small and large vesicles. These contain virus particles which were made inside the host cell at different stages of development. The large vesicles expand and the smaller vesicles, which contain mature virions, are released into the cytoplasm before exiting the cell.  


This is another family that is closely related to qinvirids. Yueviridae is a family of negative-sense RNA viruses that have been associated with not only crustaceans but also insects, stramenopiles and plants. Little is known about the replication and translation of Yuevirids, much like their close relations. There are only two classified yuevirids, Běihǎi sesarmid crab virus 3 (BhSCV3) and Shāhé yuèvirus-like virus 1 (ShYLV1), which have been found in unspecified sesarmid crabs and freshwater isopods in China. There are 11 additional viruses that are thought to be related to Yueviridae but these remain unclassified.  


The last stop on our tour of virus families that infect crustaceans is Roniviridae. Roniviruses have only been detected in crustaceans and natural infection by members of the family are common without apparent clinical signs. Penaeid shrimp are natural hosts for roniviruses but experimental infection has been reported in several species of shrimp. Members of the family include gill associated virus and yellow head virus, the latter of which is very virulent pathogen that causes mass mortalities in farmed shrimp. Other members of the family have also been associated with high mortalities in larval or adult shrimp.  

1Quan, L., Wang, Z.-D., Gao, Y., Lv, X., Han, S., Zhang, X., Shao, J.-W., Chen, C., Li, L., Hou, Z.-J., Sui, L., Zhao, Y., Wang, B., Wang, W. & Song, M. (2020). Identification of a new chuvirus associated with febrile illness in China. Research Square, doi: 10.21203/ 

The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) is responsible for developing and maintaining a universal virus taxonomy. Known viruses are categorised into a classification scheme taking into consideration their physical and biological properties in combination with their phylogenetic relationships.

These two-page summaries of each chapter of the ICTV Report (a free resource published by the ICTV which provides an up-to-date description of virus taxonomy) are freely available in the Journal of General Virology, and are supported by the Microbiology Society. These summaries are known as ICTV Virus Taxonomy Profiles and describe the structure, replication and taxonomy of each virus order and family.