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December 18, 2013


Professor Tim Flegel Thinks Marine Worms May Be Transmitting EMS



Professor Tim Flegal at Thailand’s National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (BIOTEC) thinks shrimp broodstock that have eaten marine worms—polychaetes—carrying the unique strain of Vibrio parahaemolyticus bacteria in their gut that causes early mortality syndrome may become carriers of the disease!  Flegel said, “The most likely candidate is something that they feed to the parent shrimp—the broodstock.  ...They bring in live sea worms...from China where the disease started, and they feed them to the parent shrimp.”


Flegel suspects Dr. Donald Lightner at the University of Arizona, who discovered EMS in China, may already know how the disease is transmitted and may not be revealing his full findings because the University of Arizona may want to profit from the information.


Flegel added, “We are also working with people in Japan and Taiwan.  We hope if we can sequence the whole bacteria genome, then we can find something unique about this bacteria that can be used as a marker.  But I think [Lightner] will get there first.”


If researchers in Asia find the carrier, they will announce it without worrying about patents.


Information: Professor Tim Flegel, Mahidol University, Faculty of Science, Center of Excellence for Shrimp Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (Centex Shrimp), Rama VI Road, Bangkok 10400, Thailand (phone 66-2-201-5876, fax 66-2-354-7344, email, webpage


Source: DW.  Thai Shrimp Death: Scientists Still Baffled by Southeast Asian Disease.  Photo by Nik Martin.  December 17, 2013.

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