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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Dec 2;111(48):17278-83. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1416625111. Epub 2014 Nov 17.

Densovirus associated with sea-star wasting disease and mass mortality.

Author information

1
Department of Microbiology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853; hewson@cornell.edu.
2
Department of Microbiology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853;
3
Department of Biology, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225;
4
Zoological Health Program, Wildlife Conservation Society, Bronx, NY 10460;
5
School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616;
6
California Science Center, Los Angeles, CA 90089;
7
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA 90007;
8
Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, CA 93940;
9
Olympic National Park, National Parks Service, Port Angeles, WA 98362;
10
College of Marine Science, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, FL 33701;
11
Western Ecological Research Center, US Geological Survey c/o Marine Science Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106;
12
Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064;
13
Seattle Aquarium, Seattle, WA 98101;
14
School of Aquatic & Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195;
15
Department of Physiology and Neurobiology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269;
16
Vancouver Aquarium, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6G 3E2; and.
17
School of Aquatic & Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195; Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853.
18
Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853.

Abstract

Populations of at least 20 asteroid species on the Northeast Pacific Coast have recently experienced an extensive outbreak of sea-star (asteroid) wasting disease (SSWD). The disease leads to behavioral changes, lesions, loss of turgor, limb autotomy, and death characterized by rapid degradation ("melting"). Here, we present evidence from experimental challenge studies and field observations that link the mass mortalities to a densovirus (Parvoviridae). Virus-sized material (i.e., <0.2 μm) from symptomatic tissues that was inoculated into asymptomatic asteroids consistently resulted in SSWD signs whereas animals receiving heat-killed (i.e., control) virus-sized inoculum remained asymptomatic. Viral metagenomic investigations revealed the sea star-associated densovirus (SSaDV) as the most likely candidate virus associated with tissues from symptomatic asteroids. Quantification of SSaDV during transmission trials indicated that progression of SSWD paralleled increased SSaDV load. In field surveys, SSaDV loads were more abundant in symptomatic than in asymptomatic asteroids. SSaDV could be detected in plankton, sediments and in nonasteroid echinoderms, providing a possible mechanism for viral spread. SSaDV was detected in museum specimens of asteroids from 1942, suggesting that it has been present on the North American Pacific Coast for at least 72 y. SSaDV is therefore the most promising candidate disease agent responsible for asteroid mass mortality.

KEYWORDS:

Asteroidea; densovirus; disease; virus; wasting

PMID:
25404293
PMCID:
PMC4260605
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1416625111
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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