Panulirus argus Virus 1 (PaV1) is a pathogenic virus that infects Caribbean spiny lobsters P. argus in the Florida Keys. We have developed a PCR detection assay for PaV1 for the purpose of studying the natural history of the virus and for monitoring the prevalence of infection. The detection of the virus in hemolymph and other tissues is based on the PCR amplification of a 499 bp product using specific primers designed from a cloned fragment of the PaV1 genome. The sensitivity limit for the assay was 1.2 fg of purified viral DNA. The PaV1 primers did not react with lobster DNA, oyster DNA, Ostreid Herpesvirus 1, or murine cytomegalovirus. Using this assay, we successfully followed the course of infection in lobsters inoculated with PaV1 and we detected infections in wild-caught lobsters from the Florida Keys. We have also established guidelines for interpreting infection results from the PCR assay for PaV1.
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