DAO 105:45-55 (2013)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02621

Determination of the infectious nature of the agent of acute hepatopancreatic necrosis syndrome affecting penaeid shrimp

Loc Tran1,2, Linda Nunan1, Rita M. Redman1, Leone L. Mohney1, Carlos R. Pantoja1, Kevin Fitzsimmons2, Donald V. Lightner1,*

1Aquaculture Pathology Laboratory, School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences, Department of Veterinary Science and Microbiology, and 2Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721, USA
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: A new emerging disease in shrimp, first reported in 2009, was initially named early mortality syndrome (EMS). In 2011, a more descriptive name for the acute phase of the disease was proposed as acute hepatopancreatic necrosis syndrome (AHPNS). Affecting both Pacific white shrimp Penaeus vannamei and black tiger shrimp P. monodon, the disease has caused significant losses in Southeast Asian shrimp farms. AHPNS was first classified as idiopathic because no specific causative agent had been identified. However, in early 2013, the Aquaculture Pathology Laboratory at the University of Arizona was able to isolate the causative agent of AHPNS in pure culture. Immersion challenge tests were employed for infectivity studies, which induced 100% mortality with typical AHPNS pathology to experimental shrimp exposed to the pathogenic agent. Subsequent histological analyses showed that AHPNS lesions were experimentally induced in the laboratory and were identical to those found in AHPNS-infected shrimp samples collected from the endemic areas. Bacterial isolation from the experimentally infected shrimp enabled recovery of the same bacterial colony type found in field samples. In 3 separate immersion tests, using the recovered isolate from the AHPNS-positive shrimp, the same AHPNS pathology was reproduced in experimental shrimp with consistent results. Hence, AHPNS has a bacterial etiology and Koch’s Postulates have been satisfied in laboratory challenge studies with the isolate, which has been identified as a member of the Vibrio harveyi clade, most closely related to V. parahemolyticus.


KEY WORDS: AHPNS · Early mortality syndrome · EMS · Penaeus monodon · Penaeus vannamei · Etiology · Vibrio


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Cite this article as: Tran L, Nunan L, Redman RM, Mohney LL, Pantoja CR, Fitzsimmons K, Lightner DV (2013) Determination of the infectious nature of the agent of acute hepatopancreatic necrosis syndrome affecting penaeid shrimp. Dis Aquat Org 105:45-55. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02621

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