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Dis Aquat Organ. 2005 Feb 28;63(2-3):107-11.

Polychaete worms--a vector for white spot syndrome virus (WSSV).

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  • 1Central Institute of Brackishwater Aquaculture (CIBA-ICAR), 75 Santhome High Road, Chennai-600 028, India. kkvijayan@hotmail.com


The present work provides the first evidence of polychaete worms as passive vectors of white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) in the transmission of white spot disease to Penaeus monodon broodstocks. The study was based on live polychaete worms, Marphysa spp., obtained from worm suppliers/worm fishers as well as samples collected from 8 stations on the northern coast of Tamilnadu (India). Tiger shrimp Penaeus monodon broodstock with undeveloped ovaries were experimentally infected with WSSV by feeding with polychaete worms exposed to WSSV. Fifty percent of polychaete worms obtained from worm suppliers were found to be WSSV positive by 2-step PCR, indicating high prevalence of WSSV in the live polychaetes used as broodstock feed by hatcheries in this area. Of 8 stations surveyed, 5 had WSSV positive worms with prevalence ranging from 16.7 to 75%. Polychaetes collected from areas near shrimp farms showed a higher level of contamination. Laboratory challenge experiments confirmed the field observations, and > 60% of worms exposed to WSSV inoculum were proved to be WSSV positive after a 7 d exposure. It was also confirmed that P. monodon broodstock could be infected with WSSV by feeding on WSSV contaminated polychaete worms. Though the present study indicates only a low level infectivity in wild polychaetes, laboratory experiments clearly indicated the possibility of WSSV transfer from the live feed to shrimp broodstock, suggesting that polychaete worms could play a role in the epizootiology of WSSV.

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