DAO 62:265-268 (2004)  -  doi:10.3354/dao062265

OIE white spot syndrome virus PCR gives false-positive results in Cherax quadricarinatus

Kerry Claydon, Bradford Cullen, Leigh Owens*

Microbiology and Immunology, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: White spot syndrome virus (WSSV) is an intranuclear bacilliform virus (IBV) that is a serious, notifiable crustacean pathogen. The Office International des Epizooties (OIE) PCR protocol for WSSV uses primer sets initially developed by Lo et al. (1996). It yields a first-step PCR amplicon of 1441 bp and a nested PCR amplicon of 941 bp. An amplicon (941 bp) purported to specifically detect WSSV was obtained when using template DNA extracted from Cherax quadricarinatus in a WSSV PCR detection protocol recommended by the OIE. Sequencing and analysis of the 941 bp amplicon and an occasional 550 bp amplicon from C. quadricarinatus revealed no phylogenetic relationship with WSSV, and suggested a possible lack of sufficient primer specificity for WSSV in the OIE test. This suggestion was supported by the fact that the OIE outer primer sequence (146F1) was present in both the forward and reverse position of the 941 bp and the forward position of the 550 bp nested amplicons from C. quadricarinatus. As WSSV is a notifiable pathogen, the consequences of false-positive results are harsh in WSSV-free zones and can lead to incorrect quarantine and unnecessary destruction of animals. Therefore, urgent attention and revision is necessary for the current OIE PCR protocol for WSSV detection.


KEY WORDS: Cherax quadricarinatus · Intranuclear bacilliform virus · White spot syndrome virus · PCR


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