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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 52:249-259 (2002)  -  doi:10.3354/dao052249

White spot syndrome virus (WSSV) infects specific hemocytes of the shrimp Penaeus merguiensis

Y. T. Wang1,2, W. Liu1, J. N. Seah1, C. S. Lam1, J. H. Xiang2, V. Korzh1, J. Kwang1,*

1Institute of Molecular Agrobiology, The National University of Singapore, Singapore 117604
2Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Science, 7 Nanhai Road, Qingdao, Shandong 266071, PR China
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: White spot syndrome virus (WSSV) was specifically detected by PCR in Penaeus merguiensis hemocytes, hemolymph and plasma. This suggested a close association between the shrimp hemolymph and the virus. Three types of hemocyte from shrimp were isolated using flow cytometry. Dynamic changes of the hemocyte subpopulations in P. merguiensis at different times after infection were observed, indicating that the WSSV infection selectively affected specific subpopulations. Immunofluorescence assay (IFA) and a Wright-Giemsa double staining study of hemocyte types further confirmed the cellular localization of the virus in the infected hemocytes. Electron microscopy revealed virus particles in both vacuoles and the nucleus of the semigranular cells (SGC), as well as in the vacuoles of the granular cells (GC). However, no virus could be detected in the hyaline cells (HC). Our results suggest that the virus infects 2 types of shrimp hemocytes‹GCs and SGCs. The SGC type contains higher virus loads and exhibits faster infection rates, and is apparently more susceptible to WSSV infection.

KEY WORDS: White spot syndrome virus · WSSV · Penaeus merguiensis · Hemocyte · Flow cytometry · Immunofluorescence assay · IFA

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