Variable genomic loci have been employed in a number of molecular epidemiology studies of white spot syndrome virus (WSSV), but it is unknown which loci are suitable molecular markers for determining WSSV spread on different spatiotemporal scales. Although previous work suggests that multiple introductions of WSSV occurred in central Vietnam, it is largely uncertain how WSSV was introduced and subsequently spread. Here, we evaluate five variable WSSV DNA loci as markers of virus spread on an intermediate (i.e. regional) scale, and develop a detailed and statistically supported model for the spread of WSSV. The genotypes of 17 WSSV isolates from along the coast of Vietnam – nine of which were newly characterized in this study – were analysed to obtain sufficient samples on an intermediate scale and to allow statistical analysis. Only the ORF23/24 variable region is an appropriate marker on this scale, as geographically proximate isolates show similar deletion sizes. The ORF14/15 variable region and variable-number tandem repeat (VNTR) loci are not useful as markers on this scale. ORF14/15 may be suitable for studying larger spatiotemporal scales, whereas VNTR loci are probably suitable for smaller scales. For ORF23/24, there is a clear pattern in the spatial distribution of WSSV: the smallest genomic deletions are found in central Vietnam, and larger deletions are found in the south and the north. WSSV genomic deletions tend to increase over time with virus spread in cultured shrimp, and our data are therefore congruent with the hypothesis that WSSV was introduced in central Vietnam and then radiated out.


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vol. , part 5, pp. 1164–1172

Primers used in PCR analysis for the variable loci of WSSV [ PDF] (70 KB)

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