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PaV1 infection in the Florida spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) fishery and its effects on trap function and disease transmission

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The Caribbean spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) supports the most economically valuable fishery in the Caribbean. In Florida, USA, the majority of the catch is landed in traps “baited” with live, sublegal-sized lobsters that attract other lobsters due to their social nature. This species is also commonly infected by the pathogenic virus Panulirus argus Virus 1 (PaV1). Here we describe a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) based assessment of the prevalence of PaV1 in the lobster fishery from the Florida Keys. We tested the effect of PaV1-infected lobsters in traps on catch and on transmission to other trapped, uninfected lobsters. We found that 11% of the lobsters caught in commercial traps were positive for the virus by PCR, but none of these animals showed visible signs of disease. We also tested whether healthy lobsters avoid diseased lobsters in traps. Traps into which we introduced an infected lobster caught significantly fewer lobsters than traps containing an uninfected lobster. Moreover, uninfected lobsters confined in traps with infected lobsters acquired significantly more PaV1 infections than those confined with uninfected lobsters. This study demonstrates the indirect effects that pathogens can have on fisheries and the unintended consequences of certain fishery practices on the epidemiology of a marine pathogen.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1139/f2011-146

Affiliations: 1: Old Dominion University, Department of Biological Sciences, Norfolk, VA 23529, USA. 2: Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Gloucester Point, VA 23062, USA.

Publication date: January 5, 2012

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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