Parasitology, Harold W. Manter Laboratory of


Date of this Version



Journal of Invertebrate Pathology 101:2 (June 2009), pp. 112–118.

doi: 10.1016/j.jip.2009.04.2002


Copyright © 2009 Elsevier Inc. Used by permission.


Yellow-head virus (YHV) is a major pathogen in penaeid shrimps. We surveyed 13 crustacean species in eight families from two orders that are commonly found in the Mississippi coastal area and freshwater environments as potential reservoir or carrier hosts of YHV. Using semi-nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) on relatively small sample sizes, we did not detect any natural infection. However, when the daggerblade grass shrimp, Palaemonetes pugio, and the blue crab, Callinectes sapidus, were exposed to YHV by injection and per os, YHV was detected in the tissue of P. pugio and in the hemolymph of C. sapidus when tested by semi-nested reverse transcription PCR (RT-PCR) and real time quantitative reverse transcription PCR (qRT-PCR). YHV replicated in P. pugio, causing 8% mortality (9/112) after injection, with the viral titer reaching a peak at 14 days post-inoculation (dpi) and remaining detectable at 36 dpi. The number of infected animals and viral load, however, were relatively low, but the virus still remained infectious to penaeids when administered by feeding. When YHV was injected into P. pugio, in situ hybridization detected a positive response to it at 7 dpi in connective tissue of hepatopancreas, muscle, and midgut. Viral RNA in injected C. sapidus remained at a low level for 3 days, and it was not detected from 7 dpi onward. In fed C. sapidus, the viral RNA reached a peak at 3 dpi and still detectable at 7 dpi, but it became undetectable at 14 and 21 dpi. These data suggest that P. pugio under some conditions could act as a reservoir host for YHV but that the blue crab could serve as a poor, short-term carrier host only.

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