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April 9, 2016

The World

Research—Shrimp Viruses in Ballast Water


David Griffith (, a shrimp farm consultant and manager, currently on leave in Northern Ireland, reports on The Shrimp List (a mailing list for shrimp farmers):


The risk of ballast water transporting shrimp viruses is often cited, but has not been very well documented.  A paper published this week in the journal PLoS One finds clear evidence for the transfer of infectious myonecrosis virus (IMNV) across the Pacific.


IMNV was initially found in Brazil where it caused significant impact and was subsequently found in Asia after presumably being transported in shrimp broodstock and recent news has the pathogen implicated in the ongoing losses of a major operation in Sumatra.


Griffith says the PLoS One paper indicates that the IMNV virus has clearly reached the shores of the American Pacific.  Do shrimp farmers in Central and South America have reason to be afraid?  Or will geographics, genetics and biosecurity keep the virus out?


The PLoS One paper says: “A small icosahedral dsRNA virus that is most closely related to penaeid shrimp infectious myonecrosis virus (PsIMNV) was found in the Singapore harbor waters as well as five ballast waters (one from western Asia, two from southeastern Asia, and two from the open Pacific Ocean).  PsIMNV is a member of the genus Giardiavirus in the family Totiviridae.  ...PsIMNV has created long-distance distribution in global aquaculture, beginning from Brazil and subsequently spreading to Indonesia, Thailand and Hainan Province in China.  Our finding of PsIMNV in ballast and harbor waters from southeastern Asia was not surprising given the previously reported geographic distribution of PsIMNV.  However, the presence of PsIMNV especially in two ballast waters originating from open Pacific Ocean and being discharged in the Port of LA/LB [Los Angeles/Long Beach, California, USA] is worthy of close attention as PsIMNV had not been reported in North America.”


This paper was published in its entirety on-line by PLOS ONE, a peer-reviewed, open access (free) scientific journal published by the Public Library of Science (PLOS) under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.  Operating under a pay-to-publish model, all submissions go through a pre-publication review by a member of the board of academic editors, who can elect to seek an opinion from an external reviewer.  As of 2014, PLOS ONE was the world’s largest journal by number of papers published.


Sources: 1. The Shrimp List (a mailing list for shrimp farmers).  Subject: Viral Transport in Ballast Water.  Posted by David Griffith  (  April 9, 2016.  2. Plos One.  Transporting Ocean Viromes: Invasion of the Aquatic Biosphere. Yiseul Kim (Email, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan).  April 7, 2016. 

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