Sustainability and further development of aquaculture production are constantly challenged by outbreaks of fish diseases, which are difficult to prevent or control. Developing fish strains that are genetically resistant to a disease is a cost-effective and a sustainable solution to address this challenge. To do so, heritable genetic variation in disease resistance should be identified and combined together with other desirable production traits. Aquaculture of common carp has suffered substantial losses from the infectious disease caused by the cyprinid herpes virus type 3 (CyHV-3) virus and the global spread of outbreaks indicates that many cultured strains are susceptible. In this research, CyHV-3 resistance from the feral strain “Amur Sassan” was successfully introgressed into two susceptible cultured strains up to the first backcross (BC1
) generation. Variation in resistance of families from F1
generations was significantly greater compared to that among families of any of the susceptible parental lines, a good starting point for a family selection program. Considerable additive genetic variation was found for CyHV-3 resistance. This phenotype was transferable between generations with contributions to resistance from both the resistant feral and the susceptible cultured strains. Reduced scale coverage (mirror phenotype) is desirable and common in cultured strains, but so far, cultured mirror carp strains were found to be susceptible. Here, using BC1
families ranging from susceptible to resistant, no differences in resistance levels between fully scaled and mirror full-sib groups were found, indicating that CyHV-3 resistance was successfully combined with the desirable mirror phenotype. In addition, the CyHV-3 viral load in tissues throughout the infection of susceptible and resistant fish was followed. Although resistant fish get infected, viral loads in tissues of these fish are significantly lesser than in those of susceptible fish, allowing them to survive the disease. Taken together, in this study we have laid the foundation for breeding CyHV-3-resistant strains and started to address the mechanisms underlying the phenotypic differences in resistance to this disease.